Red Sox To Add Top Prospect Triston Casas To Alternate Training Site, per Report

The Red Sox are reportedly adding top prospect Triston Casas to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. As Cotillo notes, this would suggest that Casas will also be added to the club’s 60-man player pool.

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s second-ranked prospect behind only Jeter Downs, Casas was somewhat surprisingly not added to the Sox’ initial Summer Camp roster pool last month after putting together a solid 2019 campaign in the minors.

In 120 games between full-season Greenville and High-A Salem last year, the 20-year-old posted a .256/.350/.480 slash line to go along with 20 home runs and 80 RBI over 500 total plate appearances.

Taken by the Sox with the 26th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla., Casas forwent his commitment to the University of Miami and signed with Boston for $2.55 million. He has seen the majority of his playing time as a professional come at third base but he can play a little first base as well.

While in Pawtucket, Casas will be under the watchful eye of Red Sox minor and major-league staffers alike as he continues to develop and hone his craft at McCoy Stadium. Of course, the move to add Casas to the player pool doesn’t necessarily mean the Red Sox think he is almost ready for the majors, but rather with no minor-league season, this time is pivotal for young prospects across baseball and the organization clearly think highly of Casas.

Also worth noting, as this is being typed, the Red Sox’ player pool is currently at full capacity at 60, so a roster move will likely need to be made in order for Casas to be added in the coming days.

2020 Minor League Baseball Season Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

This news does not come as a surprise, but the 2020 Minor League Baseball season has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. MiLB released a statement addressing the matter earlier Tuesday evening.

 

Per league president and CEO Pat O’Connor, “This announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, heavy financial constraints were placed on minor-league clubs across the country due to the fact their primary source of revenue comes from ticket sales.

Unlike their parent major-league clubs, minor-league affiliates do not have lucrative television or other media contracts to rely on in the absence of ticket sales and other gameday revenue, so getting through an entire season with teams playing in empty or nearly empty ballparks would have been virtually impossible.

Back in May, the Red Sox committed to paying their non-40-man-roster minor-leaguers $400 per week through the end of August, or what would have been the end of the minor-league season.

Without a minor-league season, it has been reported by Baseball America that some teams will allow their minor-leaguers to pursue opportunities in independent league baseball.

It is also worth mentioning that the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, were supposed to play their final season at McCoy Stadium this year before relocating to Worcester.

With Polar Park making progress towards its completion before the start of the 2021 minor-league season, it would seem as though the PawSox have already played their last game at McCoy, which they have called home since 1969.

On another note, the short-season affiliate of the Red Sox, the Lowell Spinners, probably won’t be affiliated with the Red Sox for that much longer, as the entire infrastructure of minor-league baseball appears to be headed towards rapid turnover. That much was made evident by this year’s amateur draft, which consisted of only five rounds to make it the shortest in MLB’s history to this point in time.

Minor-league baseball is an important aspect of the game for developing players and young fans alike. Despite that notion, the landscape of MiLB will probably never be the same beginning in 2021 if those aforementioned changed do take place.

What If There Is No Minor-League Baseball at All in 2020?

The Pawtucket Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs, Salem Red Sox, and Greenville Drive should all be a little more than two weeks into their season right about now.

Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the baseball season, major and minor-league alike, on hold for the time being.

Recently, there have been reports about Major League Baseball potentially putting together a plan that would involve having all 30 clubs play their games this season in one central location, such as Arizona, Florida, or even Texas.

As encouraging as those proposals may seem, what has not been discussed much since MLB suspended spring training last month is when the minor-league season will start, or if there will even be one at all.

According to Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, “In off-the-record discussions with people all around the game, there is a near-universal acknowledgement that there are a massive amount of hurdles that have to be overcome to make any MiLB season happen.”

Cooper gets into more of the financial and logistical side of things in his article, but in this case, I want to focus on the developmental side. More specifically, if no minor-league games are played in 2020, how would that impact a prospect’s development and career trajectory?

Take Red Sox infield prospect Jeter Downs for instance. The top prospect acquired by Boston from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade is projected by FanGraphs to make his big-league debut at some point during the 2022 campaign. Would having no minor-league games to play in this year result in Downs’ ETA being pushed back another year?

That probably still depends on what the 21-year-old does in 2021, but taking away a year to develop and continue to improve in actual games while being under the eyes of the organization is something worth thinking about nonetheless.

As odd as it would be to see MLB games played in front of no fans in one neutral location this year, it might be even weirder to have no minor-league baseball to look forward to in 2020 at all.

Red Sox’ Seventh-Ranked Prospect Jay Groome Punches out Two in 2019 Gulf Coast League Debut

Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect Jay Groome tossed a scoreless first inning for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox on Wednesday in what was his first professional appearance in nearly two years.

Facing off against the Atlanta Braves’ GCL team in North Port, Fla. earlier Wednesday morning, the soon to be 21-year-old hurler needed only eight pitches, all of which were strikes, to punch out two and yield one hit in a nearly-perfect frame of work.

Selected by Boston with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Barnegat High School in New Jersey, Groome had been out since the 2017 campaign, where he injured his throwing elbow late into the year and eventually underwent successful Tommy John surgery in May of 2018.

Before all that went down, Groome posted a 2.70 ERA and .125 batting average against over his first three professional starts and 6 2/3 innings pitched between the GCL Red Sox and short-season Lowell Spinners in 2016.

In 2017, the New Jersey native showed some signs of struggle, pitching to the tune of a 5.69 ERA and .234 batting average against through 14 starts and 55 1/3 total innings of work between Lowell and Class-A Greenville before being sidelined.

Per his MiLB.com page, Groome is on a rehab assignment with the GCL Sox, and given how the minor league season wraps up in under two weeks, it’s hard to imagine the lefty pitching anywhere else this year.

Despite all the time he has missed, Groome is still ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system, according to MLB Pipeline.

 

 

Red Sox’ Ninth-Ranked Prospect Jarren Duran Promoted to Double-A Portland

Less than a full calendar year after being selected with the 220th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft, the Red Sox have promoted speedy prospect Jarren Duran from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland, according to SoxProspects’ Chris Hatfield.

Duran, 22, is currently ranked as Boston’s ninth-best prospect, according to MLB.com.

Drafed out of Long Beach State in 2018, the California native has done nothing but hit since reporting to Low-A Lowell last June.

In 67 total games split between the New York-Penn and South Atlantic Leagues, Duran made a great first impression by slashing .357/.394/.516 with three home runs, 35 RBI, and 24 stolen bases.

This season, after breaking minor league camp with the High-A Salem Red Sox, the 2018 organizational All-Star came out of the gate running, leading the Carolina League, and all of minor league baseball for that matter, in hitting with a .387 batting average.

He also posted a .456 on-base and .543 slugging percentage to go along with four homers, 19 runs driven in, and 18 swiped bags over 50 games played.

Without a doubt, Duran is the most intriguing outfield prospect in the Red Sox’ system. How he adjusts to Eastern League pitching will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.

#RedSox’ Dustin Pedroia Collects Two Hits in First Game of Rehab Assignment with Class A Greenville

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia made his first ever start for the Class A Greenville Drive on Thursday as part of his rehab assignment after beginning the 2019 season on the 10-day injured list.

Batting second and manning second base per usual, the 35-year-old veteran went 2/3 at the plate with a fourth inning single, a sixth inning walk, and an eighth inning double.

On the field, the four-time Gold Glove Award winner turned a 6-4-3 double play in the fifth inning.

Playing all nine innings in front of a record crowd of 7,551 for Greenville’s home opener at Fluor Field, Pedroia had nothing but positive things to say about his experience playing down in South Carolina.

“It was fun,” Pedroia said following the Drive’s 1-0 loss to the West Virginia Power, a minor league affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. “This is a great atmosphere here. I mean these guys are lucky. The stadium is unbelievable. The fans are great. The playing surface is awesome. You couldn’t ask for more out of a minor league affiliate. This is a pretty special place for these guys, so it was a great experience to be out there.”

Pedroia is slated to play another nine innings Friday before getting the day off on Saturday, then doing it all again on Sunday in what could be his last rehab appearance before being activated from the injured list ahead of the Red Sox’ own home opener on Tuesday.

“That would mean a lot,” Pedroia said. “That would be pretty cool.”

In the past two seasons, Pedroia has only managed to play in 108 out of a possible 324 regular season games with Boston due to different injuries.

Eight games into the 2019 campaign, Red Sox second baseman rank 27th out of 30th in OPS from the second base position. Not great.

When he does finally make his return to the big league club, perhaps a healthy Pedroia can provide the Red Sox with a spark they need to get back to winning baseball.

The #RedSox Have Promoted 2018 Third Round Pick Durbin Feltman to High A Salem.

Wednesday may be an off day and the day after the trade deadline for the Red Sox, but the team has certainly kept themselves busy with a slew of roster moves.

Highlighting these moves would be none other than Durbin Feltman, the team’s third round pick in this year’s draft out of TCU, being promoted to High A Salem.

Feltman, a righty reliever, has pitched with both short season Lowell and full season Greenville in his first professional season.

In just four games with the Spinners, Feltman tossed four perfect innings in four different appearances while striking out seven.

After getting promoted to the Drive on July 10th, things have not gone as smoothly for the former Horned Frog in Greenville as they did in Lowell. Still, he posted a 2.57 ERA and .214 BAA in seven appearances from July 11th up to the 29th.

According to SoxProspects.com, Feltman is a three pitch type pitcher out of the bullpen:

Fastball: 94-96 mph. Has reportedly topped out at 99 mph. Ball explodes out of his hand and pitch has late life. Tough to square up. Command still needs some improvement, but already shows above-average control profile. Potential plus-plus offering. 

Slider: 84-86 mph. True power breaking ball. Pitch shows hard bite and depth though the zone. Gets over well and finishes the pitch. Able to throw in the zone and out depending on the situation. Potential plus-to-better pitch with the potential to miss bats at the highest level. 

Changeup: 85 mph. Clear third pitch. Lacks feel, looks like a fastball he takes something off. Using sparingly. Below-average potential.

Given how fast he has progressed through the Red Sox system, it would certainly not be surprising to see Feltman up with the big league club sometime this season, whether it’s when rosters expand in September or beforehand.

Feltman, 21, signed with the Red Sox for $559,600 on June 14th after being selected with the 100th overall pick in the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

To go along with the Feltman promotion, other minor moves Boston has made over the last 48 hours include releasing Adam Lind, promoting Kole Cottam and Jarren Duran to Greenville, and promoting number 17 overall prospect Travis Lakins to Triple A Pawtucket.