For the second consecutive year, Triston Casas has been identified by MLB Pipeline as the No. 2 first-base prospect in baseball heading into the 2022 season.
Last year, Casas only trailed White Sox rookie Andrew Vaughn for the top spot. This time around, the Red Sox first baseman falls in line behind Tigers top prospect Spencer Torkelson for the No. 1 ranking.
In evaluating this position group, MLB.com’s William Boor writes that Casas has 60-grade arm strength (20-80 scouting scale) since he both pitched and played third base in high school. Boor also projects that Casas will make his major-league debut this year.
Casas, who turned 22 in January, enters the 2022 season ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 2 prospect in Boston’s farm system behind only fellow infielder Marcelo Mayer.
At this time last spring, Casas was preparing for his third full season in the Red Sox organization after being selected by the club in the first round (26th overall pick) in the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla.
Coming off a 2020 campaign that was altered drastically by the COVID-19 pandemic, Casas opened the 2021 season with Double-A Portland. While he had to step away from affiliated ball on two separate occasions to help Team USA qualify for and win a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics, the left-handed hitter still batted .284/.395/.484 (142 wRC+) with 12 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs, 52 RBIs, 57 runs scored, six stolen bases, 49 walks, and 63 strikeouts across 77 games (329 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.
Shortly before the minor-league season came to a close, the Red Sox promoted Casas to Triple-A Worcester. In nine games with the WooSox, the Florida native slashed .242/.381/.485 (130 wRC+) to go along with three doubles, one triple, one homer, seven RBIs, six runs scored, one stolen base, eight walks, and eight strikeouts over nine games and 42 trips to the plate.
Most minor-leaguers knew their season was over by October. Casas, however, was not done, as he was one of eight Red Sox prospect who headed out west to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.
Appearing in 21 games with Scottsdale, Casas crushed just one home run but posted a .982 OPS (12th-highest in the league) en route to being named an AFL All-Star.
Following the conclusion of the brief AFL season, Casas was able to remain in touch with the Red Sox throughout the MLB lockout since he has yet to be added to the club’s 40-man roster. As such, the hulking 6-foot-4, 252 pounder participated in the Sox’ Winter Warm-Up program that preceded the start of minor-league spring training.
Had the lockout not ended last week, Casas would still be at minor-league camp in Fort Myers. He was instead one of 12 non-roster invitees added to the Red Sox’ spring training roster on Saturday and is likely to get into some Grapefruit League games as soon as this weekend.
With Casas being present at major-league camp for a second straight spring, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has the opportunity to get another extended look at the promising 22-year-old who may share some of the same habits as veteran slugger J.D. Martinez.
“Very structured in his routine. Very J.D.-like if you want to call it that,” Cora said of Casas this past Sunday. “So I think they’re going to be fighting for that cage time. But because he (Casas) is a rookie, he probably has to show up at five in the morning and get it. Because when J.D. gets here, it’s his cage.”
Regardless of how he performs this spring, Casas will likely return to Worcester for the start of the 2022 minor-league season. He could, however, be knocking on the door and eventually be making his big-league debut at some point this summer.
(Picture of Triston Casas: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)