Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas homers in Triple-A debut

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas wasted no time in introducing himself to a new level of competition in his debut for Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday night.

After earning a promotion from Double-A Portland earlier this week, Casas batted third and started at first base for the WooSox in their series opener against the Rochester Red Wings (Nationals affiliate) on a rainy night at Polar Park.

Matched up against 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli to begin things on Wednesday, the 21-year-old struck out in his first at-bat in the first inning and also fell behind 0-2 in his second at-bat following a two-out double from Jonathan Arauz two innings later.

At that time, the WooSox found themselves trailing the Red Wings by a score of 2-0, but Casas changed that rather quickly after he stepped out of the box to recompose himself.

As he stepped back into the box, the left-handed-hitting first baseman proceeded to take three straight balls from Cavalli before crushing a game-tying, two-run shot over the wall in left field for his first Triple-A home run.

“I knew I was one take away from settling in,” Casas told reporters Wednesday night. “I got behind 0-2 pretty quick in that second at-bat and I was like, ‘Man, I don’t want to go down like this again.’ So I had a couple good takes, and I know he’s got put-away stuff on the other side. He’s a really good pitcher, he made a mistake, and I capitalized on it.”

Franchy Cordero followed with a homer of his own to give Worcester their first lead of the night, as they would go on to take Wednesday’s contest by a final score of 4-3.

Casas wound up going 1-for-4 with just that one home run and two punchouts, but he certainly made his presence felt in his first exposure to Triple-A pitching.

“I try to take it as just another game, but I know this means a lot to me and it means a lot for the organization to bring me up here and get me playing time at this level,” he said following the WooSox’ win. “I just wanted to come out and contribute anyway I can, especially in the first game and it definitely settled the nerves, for sure.”

Casas, who was originally selected by the Red Sox with the 26th overall pick in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.), is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system.

The Miami-area native initially opened the 2021 minor-league campaign at Portland after spending some time with the big-league club in spring training and held his own there, slashing .284/.395/.484 (142 wRC+) with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 homers, 52 RBI, 57 runs scored, six stolen bases, 49 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 77 games (329 plate appearances).

He also spent part of his summer in Tokyo, where he helped the United States’ Olympic baseball team win a silver medal at the 2020 Summer Games while being named the top first baseman of the tournament.

Casas’ promotion from Portland to Worcester came shortly after the Sea Dogs’ season ended this past Sunday, so the 6-foot-4, 252 pounder will now have the chance to get into some more games before the WooSox’ season comes to a close next weekend.

Given the progress he has made this year in the wake of the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Casas — who turns 22 in January — knows he is on the cusp of garnering serious consideration for a big-league call-up. Put another way, his time is coming.

“I felt it when they first gave me the call,” he said when asked if he has realized how close he is to the majors. “I was like, ‘Yeah, this is the last step, you know?’ I’m really close and it feels really good to know that my hard work is being appreciated.”

(Picture of Triston Casas: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Red Sox minor-league coordinators Andy Fox, Darren Fenster filling in on Alex Cora’s coaching staff while Will Venable, Tom Goodwin quarantine in Canada

With bench coach Will Venable and first base coach Tom Goodwin currently quarantining in Toronto, the Red Sox have added Andy Fox and Darren Fenster to their major-league coaching staff, manager Alex Cora said Tuesday.

Venable tested positive for COVID-19 this past Saturday, during the first game of the Sox’ doubleheader against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Despite being vaccinated against the virus, Venable has been placed into a mandatory 14-day quarantine on account of the rules put into effect by the Canadian government.

Goodwin, meanwhile, has also been forced to quarantine since he was identified as a close contact of Venable, though he could return to the club sooner since he has yet to test positive for COVID.

“They’re doing OK,” Cora said of the two coaches ahead of Tuesday night’s game against the Rays at Fenway Park. “It’s not easy. I texted with them today. They’re doing OK. The organization has done an amazing job taking care of their diet plans. Both of them, they’re really good about their nutrition.

“But, all kidding aside, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s where we’re at,” added Cora. “Those two are relentless, they’re working with us, they’re doing their homework, they’re sending in information, and on top of everything that’s going on here, hopefully we can get them back soon here with us.”

In place of Goodwin and Venable, Cora will rely on two minor-league coordinators in Fox and Fenster — both of whom have been with the organization in some capacity since 2011 and 2012, respectively — for the time being.

Fox, 50, has served as Boston’s minor-league infield coordinator since 2011 and as assistant field coordinator since 2019. He also has experience as a minor-league manager and hitting coach as well as a major-league first base and infield coach for the Florida Marlins from 2007 through 2019.

“A person that I really respect and really like,” Cora said of Fox. “He can help [third base coach] Carlos [Febles] while [quality control coach] Ramon [Vazquez] is doing other stuff within the day.”

Fenster, 42, has served as the Sox’ minor-league outfield and baserunning coordinator since 2019 after previously managing the Portland Sea Dogs in 2018 and Greenville Drive from 2014 through 2017.

This summer, Fenster served as Team USA’s third base coach under manager Mike Scioscia and helped the United States baseball team (including Red Sox minor-leaguers Jack Lopez and Triston Casas) win a silver medal in Tokyo.

“I don’t know if the coaches get the medal, but hopefully he did,” Cora joked. “He can bring it here and we can see it.”

While Fox and Fenster will temporarily fill the void left behind by Venable and Goodwin, Cora will still turn to the coaches who have been on his staff throughout the season — such as Vazquez and game planning coordinator Jason Varitek.

“Like I always said, Will is the bench coach but Jason helps me out a lot, too — and Ramon,” said Cora. “Between Ramon and Jason, and Andy running the dugout, they’re going to be trying to get people ready, the lineup card, [mound] visits, and the replay phone.”

When asked if the Red Sox would be able to pull any strings in order to get Venable and Goodwin back to the states sooner than anticipated, Cora could only respond by saying it’s out of the club’s control.

“I think that’s out of our hands, to be honest with you,” he said. “That’s more about the government stuff.”

(Picture of Ernie Young, Darren Fenster, and Mike Scioscia: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran scratched from Triple-A Worcester’s lineup due to lower-back tightness

Top Red Sox outfield prospect Jarren Duran was scratched from Triple-A Worcester’s starting lineup on Friday night, but not for the reason you might expect.

Duran was originally leading off and starting in center field for the WooSox in their game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies affiliate) in Allentown, Pa., which was slated to begin at 7:05 p.m. eastern time, but has since been delayed.

At approximately 6:30 p.m., however, the WooSox announced a lineup change, as left fielder Marcus Wilson moved into the leadoff spot and Tate Matheny took over for Duran in center field.

That change led many to speculate if the Red Sox were making preparations to call up one of their most exciting prospects for his highly-anticipated major-league debut, but it turns out that he was removed from Worcester’s lineup for injury-related reasons.

According to the Worcester Telegram’s Joe McDonald, Duran was scratched with lower-back tightness, though the move is more precautionary than anything on account of the rainy conditions in eastern Pennsylvania.

Duran, who turns 25 in September, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among outfielders in the organization.

With the WooSox this season, the speedy left-handed hitting outfielder has posted an impressive .279/.369/.581 slash line (148 wRC+) to go along with 15 home runs, 32 RBI, 36 runs scored, 22 walks, 47 strikeouts, and 10 stolen bases over 43 games (179 plate appearances) thus far.

While he has continued to turn heads in Worcester — as well as with Team USA — this year, Duran is still waiting for that first call up to the big-leagues.

Despite helping Team USA qualify for the Summer Games earlier this spring, Duran was not named to their final Olympic roster last week.

The reasoning behind that, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, had to do with the United States Olympic Committee being concerned that the Red Sox would want to call him up while he was playing in Tokyo, which in turn would lead to logistical challenges.

With that being said, Speier added that “Duran is de facto big league depth at this point [and is] very likely to reach the big-leagues at some point this year.”

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox minor-leaguers Triston Casas, Jack Lopez named to Team USA’s Olympic roster

A pair of Red Sox minor-leaguers will represent the United States in the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

First baseman Triston Casas and utility man Jack Lopez were both named to Team USA’s 24-man Olympic roster, USA Baseball announced on Friday.

Darren Fenster, a minor-league outfield and baserunning coach within the Red Sox organization, will serve as Team USA’s third base coach under manager Mike Scioscia.

Casas, 21, is regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Red Sox farm system and the No. 24 prospect in all of baseball.

In 36 games with Double-A Portland this season, the left-handed hitter is slashing .275/.357/.413 (113 wRC+) with three doubles, two triples, four home runs, 23 RBI, 26 runs scored, 17 walks, 38 strikeouts, and three stolen bases over 157 plate appearances.

Selected by the Red Sox with the 26th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft, Casas participated in the Baseball Americas Qualifier Tournament in late May and early June and will once again be representing his country in the coming weeks.

Lopez, meanwhile, was added to Team USA’s roster after initially playing for Team Puerto Rico before they were eliminated from Olympic contention during qualifiers.

The 28-year-old originally inked a minor-league deal with the Sox in January after spending the first nine years of his professional career between the Royals and Braves organizations.

After opening the 2021 season with Double-A Portland, Lopez was promoted to Triple-A Worcester on May 11. Since then, the right-handed hitter has posted a .336/.369/.434 slash line (114 wRC+) to go along with eight doubles, one homer, 19 RBI, 18 runs scored, seven walks, 21 strikeouts, and seven stolen bases over the course of 33 games (122 plate appearances).

Despite playing nothing but second base, third base, and shortstop in his brief time with the WooSox, Lopez is listed as an outfielder on Team USA’s roster. This is the case because the former 16th-round draft pick out of Puerto Rico does have limited professional experience in both left and center field.

Speaking of outfielders, top Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran, like Casas, aided Team USA in qualifying for the Summer Games this spring and turned the heads of many while doing so.

That said, Duran was not named to the United States’ Olympic roster on Friday. According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the reasoning behind this comes from the decision makers at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, not the Red Sox.

“The Red Sox would have been OK with him going, with the proviso that if they wanted to call him up, they could,” Speier wrote on Friday. “With visa requirements and the logistical challenges of replacing a player, the US elected not to include Duran on the roster for the same reason that the team doesn’t feature members of MLB 40-man rosters: Duran is de facto big league depth at this point.”

Duran, who turns 25 in September, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 25 prospect in all of baseball, ranking eighth among the game’s top young outfielders.

With the WooSox this season, Duran has proven that he is more than capable of handling Triple-A pitching, as he came into play Friday boasting a .278/.372/.599 batting line in addition to 15 homers and 31 RBI over 39 games.

The speedy outfielder has been on the verge of a big-league call up for quite some time now, and the fact that he will not be headed to Tokyo may signal that his impending promotion could be coming sooner rather than later.

As for the Olympic baseball tournament itself, Team USA will open play with a game against Team Israel on July 30. The tourney runs through August 7 as the U.S. will be going for its third gold medal in baseball.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Top Red Sox prospects Triston Casas, Jarren Duran named to Team USA’s Olympic qualifying roster

It should not come as much of a surprise, but Red Sox top prospects Triston Casas and Jarren Duran were both named to USA Baseball’s Olympic qualifying roster on Sunday.

Team USA’s roster, which is comprised of 26 players, consists of 14 pitchers and 12 position players, with Casas being one of six outfielders and Duran being one of four outfielders on the squad.

The United States will open group play of the Baseball Americas Qualifier against Nicaragua in Port St. Lucie, Fla. on Monday before facing off against the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico the next two days.

The top two teams from each of the two groups participating will advance to the Super Round and play two games against one another. The team with the best record (including in group play) following the Super Round will be declared the winner of the tournament and join the likes of Israel, Japan, Korea, and Mexico as teams who have already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer.

The second- and third-place teams, meanwhile, will compete in another tournament in Mexico in late June to determine who will get the final Olympic qualifying spot.

This latest installment of Team USA is led by longtime big-league manager Mike Scioscia, who has Red Sox minor-league outfield and baserunning coach Darren Fenster on his staff as the third-base coach.

When speaking with Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser during Team USA’s training camp last week, Scioscia described just how thoroughly impressed he has been with Duran.

“Looking at video ever since he was selected for our club, you just see the talent jump off the screen,” Scioscia said. “Seeing him in person, his first step is incredible everywhere, whether he’s trying to steal a base or he’s in center field. He’s a five-tool player. When you call a guy a five-tool player you’re saying that he’s special. He’s in an elite group. I think that Jarren has that that skill set that can make him an impact player very quickly in the major-leagues.”

Duran, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 90 prospect in all of baseball.

The left-handed-hitting outfielder had been hitting .278/.366/.625 to go along with four doubles, seven home runs, 12 RBI, 14 runs scored, 10 walks, 21 strikeouts, and four stolen bases through 18 games played (82 plate appearances) for Triple-A Worcester prior to heading down to Florida to join Team USA.

“Having USA across my chest, I don’t know if anything ever compares to that,” Duran told The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams via text message. “I feel honored to represent this great country, and having the Red Sox back me up on that means a lot. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity and I will forever be grateful to the Red Sox for letting me have this opportunity.”

Casas, on the other hand, is the top prospect in the Sox’ farm system and the 39th-ranked prospect in all of baseball, per Baseball America.

The 21-year-old first baseman is currently slashing an impressive .328/.400/.552 with four home runs and 16 RBI across 17 games (75 plate appearances) with Double-A Portland.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Jarren Duran drawing praise from manager Mike Scioscia, veteran teammates during Team USA training camp

Former Angels manager Mike Scioscia managed the best player in baseball for eight years (2011-2018) in the form of Mike Trout.

Trout, a three-time American League MVP, eight-time All-Star, and eight-time Silver Slugger Award winner, is without a doubt the textbook definition of a five-tool player, and has been for quite some time.

So when Scioscia, who is currently managing Team USA ahead of an Olympic qualifying event in Florida, describes one of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system as a five-tool player, that is saying something.

Who is that Red Sox prospect exactly? None other than outfielder Jarren Duran, of course.

Duran, like fellow top Sox prospect Triston Casas, is one of 13 major-league prospects currently taking part in Team USA’s training camp down in southwest Florida.

As of now, Team USA’s roster — which also consists of a plethora of big-league veterans — is made up of 28 players, but will be whittled down to 26 by Sunday (May 30).

Since the training camp began earlier this week, Team USA has played a total of three exhibition games as of Friday. In those three games, Duran is the only player on the team who his hit a home run to this point.

“Looking at video ever since he was selected for our club, you just see the talent jump off the screen,” Scioscia recently told Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser. “Seeing him in person, his first step is incredible everywhere, whether he’s trying to steal a base or he’s in center field. He’s a five-tool player. When you call a guy a five-tool player you’re saying that he’s special. He’s in an elite group. I think that Jarren has that that skill set that can make him an impact player very quickly in the major-leagues.”

Duran, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, which ranks tops among outfielders in the organization.

After turning heads last summer at the alternate training site, over the winter in Puerto Rico, and in Fort Myers during spring training, the 6-foot-2, 202 pound left-handed hitter opened the 2021 minor-league season with Triple-A Worcester.

Prior to heading down to Florida to join Team USA, Duran was carrying with him a .278/.366/.625 slash line to go along with four doubles, seven home runs, 12 RBI, 14 runs scored, 10 walks, 21 strikeouts, and four stolen bases through 18 games played (82 plate appearances) for the WooSox.

Per Glaser, “USA Baseball identified Duran as a player it wanted last spring for the qualifier that was originally scheduled to take place in March 2020,” but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed everything back by a year.

Even with that delay, Team USA still took interest in Duran, as general manager Eric Campbell explained to Glaser.

“He makes you stop and watch,” Campbell said. “He’s a great player.”

The manager and general manager of Team USA are not the only ones who have been impressed with what they have seen from Duran, as longtime big-league third baseman has also been awestruck by the young outfielder.

“This kid Duran from the Red Sox has opened my eyes,” said Frazier. “I talk about work ethic with these kids. I mean, head and shoulders way above where I was at that age.”

Assuming both Duran and Casas — who was playing for Double-A Portland — make the 26-man roster, Team USA will open this upcoming qualifying tournament for the summer games against Nicaragua in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

Jeter Downs, Boston’s No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America, is also slated to play for his home country of Colombia in the same ‘ 2021 Baseball Americas Qualification Event.’

“It’s a good learning experience,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said last weekend in regards to Casas and Duran playing for Team USA. “Obviously, to play for your country is an honor. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn from some guys who were very successful at this level. I hope for them that they can contribute and do the job.

“I think it’s a great experience,” added Cora. “Being around (Scioscia)… what an honor. He’s going to help them to be better. … This is part of, actually, player development. You’re going to be around some guys who have done it at the highest level of competition — one of the highest levels. It will be great for them.”

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox prospects Triston Casas, Jarren Duran to play for Team USA in Olympic qualifying event

Two of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system will be suiting up for Team USA in an Olympic qualifying event next month.

According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, both infield prospect Triston Casas and outfield prospect Jarren Duran will be playing for top-ranked Team USA in the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, which will run from May 31 through June 5 in southeast Florida.

Casas, 21, is regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system. The 6-foot-5, 250 pound first baseman was selected by the Sox in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft and is currently partaking in minor-league spring training in Fort Myers.

Duran, 24, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among outfielders in the organization. The 6-foot-2, 202 pound speedy outfielder was selected by the Sox in the seventh round of that same draft and is currently at the team’s alternate training site in Worcester.

Team USA — one of eight teams in the tournament along with Canada, Cuba, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela — will be managed by longtime Angels skipper Mike Scioscia.

Darren Fenster, a minor-league outfield and base-running coordinator for the Red Sox who has been with the organization since 2012, will serve as Scioscia’s third base coach.

Per Abraham, the winner of the tournament will earn a trip to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, while the second- and the third-place teams will move on to another qualifying tournament in June.

The Red Sox have been plenty involved in Team USA’s efforts to qualify for the 2020 Summer Games to this point in time.

Bobby Dalbec, Tanner Houck, and Noah Song — as well as former prospect C.J. Chatham — all represented their country in the WBSC Premier12 tournament in November 2019.

Team USA wound up finishing fourth in that qualifying event, leading to their participation in the upcoming WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

2021 World Baseball Classic Cancelled Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

The 2021 World Baseball Classic will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas.

Per Rojas, a source told him, “The tournament was canceled. It is not the priority right now,” while another source said, “Basically the only thing missing is an official announcement.”

The fifth installment of the international baseball tournament was scheduled to take place from March 9th until March 23rd of next year in the United States, Taiwan, and Japan.

16 countries — Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela — had already qualified for the 2021 WBC since they all participated in 2017.

However, with the tournament increasing its number of participating teams to 20, two additional qualifying tournaments were set to take place in Arizona in March, but they were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.

The cancellations of those qualifying events came about three weeks before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were also postponed.

As Rojas states, “Because the [WBC] is part of the current Collective Labor Agreement (CBA) between MLB and its players union, which expires in December 2021, rescheduling the tournament must be negotiated.”

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale is reporting that the next World Baseball Classic will either be held in 2023 or 2025. More specific details will likely come into focus once Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agree on a specific date in future negotiations.