The Red Sox are planning to promote top prospect Triston Casas ahead of Sunday’s series finale against the Rangers at Fenway Park, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. In a corresponding move, fellow first baseman Bobby Dalbec will be optioned to Triple-A Worcester, reports The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.
Casas, 22, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 28 prospect in all of baseball. The Red Sox originally selected the Miami-area native with the 26th overall selection in the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.). They swayed him away from his commitment to the University of Miami by signing him for roughly $2.553 million.
After making his professional debut in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Casas spent the majority of 2019 with Low-A Greenville before earning a late-season promotion to High-A Salem. With the 2020 minor-league season being wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Casas was limited to working out at the Sox’ alternate training site that summer.
Last year, Casas received his first invite to major-league spring training. He later broke camp with Double-A Portland, but was limited to just 77 games with the Sea Dogs while being away on international duty and helping Team USA win a silver medal in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Upon returning from Japan, Casas closed out the 2021 campaign in Worcester and also represented the Red Sox in the Arizona Fall League. He and teammate Kole Cottam were both named AFL All-Stars. And while the lockout dominated this past off-season, Casas was able to remain in contact with the Red Sox since he is not yet on the 40-man roster.
On the heels of such a busy year, it appeared as though Casas would be able to settle in with the WooSox on a full-time basis in 2022. But he sustained a high right ankle sprain on May 17 and wound up being sidelined for nearly two months as a result.
Following a brief rehab assignment in Fort Myers, Casas returned to Worcester’s lineup on July 22. The left-handed hitter was slashing .296/.404/.504 (140 wRC+) with 11 doubles, one triple, five home runs, 16 RBIs, and 23 runs scored over his last 36 games. On the 2022 campaign as a whole, he is batting .273/.382/.481 (127 wRC+) with 20 doubles, one triple, 11 homers, 38 runs driven in, 45 runs scored, 46 walks, and 60 strikeouts across 72 games (317 plate appearances) for the WooSox.
Listed at a hulking 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Casas stands out both in the batter’s box and on the field. His hard-hit rates are to be reckoned with, as is his ability to play first base since he was recently identified by Baseball America as the best defensive first baseman in the International League.
Casas is slated to become the fifth player to make his major-league debut with the Red Sox this season, joining Josh Winckowski, Zack Kelly, Jeter Downs, and Brayan Bello, who is listed right ahead of Casas in Baseball America’s Red Sox prospects rankings.
While there will be plenty of buzz surrounding Casas’ debut, the Red Sox will first need to add the infielder to their 40-man roster. They can easily accomplish this by placing closer Tanner Houck, who will undergo season-ending back surgery next week, on the 60-day injured list.
From there, Boston can simply swap Dalbec for Casas, who figures to split time at first base with the right-handed hitting Christian Arroyo while Eric Hosmer remains on the injured list because of low back inflammation.
Dalbec, on the other hand, will head to Worcester, meaning this is the first time the 27-year-old has been optioned since he made his major-league debut for Boston in August 2020.
After ending 2021 on a strong note, Dalbec has struggled mightily on both sides of the ball this year. The right-handed hitter is batting just .211/.282/.362 (78 wRC+) with nine doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, 36 RBIs, 38 runs scored, three stolen bases, 29 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 111 games (340 plate appearances). He has also posted negative-4 defensive runs saved across 635 innings at first base.
Although it took until the beginning of September, it seems as though Chaim Bloom, Alex Cora, and the rest of the Red Sox’ key decision makers were ready to send down Dalbec and see what Casas can do over the final few weeks of the regular season.
Because he is just being called up now, Casas — who turns 23 in January — will maintain his rookie status heading into next season. That is important when you consider the fact that, under MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement, the Red Sox could receive a compensatory draft pick if Casas makes the club’s 2023 Opening Day roster and finishes in the top three in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
(Picture of Triston Casas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)