Red Sox’ Triston Casas ranked by MLB Pipeline as No. 2 first-base prospect in baseball

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)

Red Sox prospects in the Fall Stars Game: How did Triston Casas, Kole Cottam fare in Arizona Fall League showcase?

The East Division Fall Stars took care of business against the West Division Fall Stars in the 2021 Fall Stars Game on Saturday night, holding them off for a 6-5 victory in front of 3,575 spectators at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Red Sox prospects Triston Casas and Kole Cottam both appeared in the one-run win for the East Division while representing the Scottsdale Scorpions, with the former getting the start at first base and the latter coming off the bench as a defensive replacement at catcher.

Batting sixth for the East, Casas went 1-for-3 with a ground-rule double and run scored while also leaving runner on base. The left-handed hitter began his night by lacing a line-drive double down the right field line off Angels right-hander Coleman Crow with two outs in the bottom of the first inning.

The ball left Casas’ bat with an exit velocity of 97 mph and very well could have scored Gabriel Moreno all the way from first base. It instead rolled under the right field wall in foul territory and went for a ground-rule double that momentarily kept Moreno at third.

Both Moreno and Casas scored moments later, though, with Rays prospect Curtis Mead driving them in on a two-run single that gave the East Division an early 4-2 lead.

From that point on, Casas came up to the plate two more times and softly grounded out in both appearances. He was replaced at first base by Rockies prospect Michael Toglia in the beginning of the sixth.

Casas, who turns 22 in January, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system. He was selected to the Fall Stars Game after slashing an impressive .356/.472/.479 to go along with six doubles, one home run, 10 RBIs, 17 runs scored, 14 walks, and 18 strikeouts over 19 games (73 plate appearances) for Scottsdale.

Cottam, meanwhile, was a late addition to the East Division’s Fall Stars roster on Saturday. He was dispatched in the top of the eighth inning as he took over behind the plate for Giants prospect Patrick Bailey.

The right-handed hitting backstop got one at-bat in the bottom half of that frame and went 0-for-1 as he grounded into a fielder’s choice out at third base and was stranded at first base himself. He additionally caught the final two frames of Saturday’s contest, both of which were scoreless to close out the 6-5 win for the East Division.

Cottam, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in the Red Sox farm system. The 6-foot-3, 235 pounder out of the University of Kentucky was added to the East Division’s roster after posting a stout .283/.370/.543 slash line with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, seven runs scored, five walks, and 11 strikeouts through 14 games (54 plate appearances) with the Scorpions.

With the conclusion of the 15th installment of the Fall Stars Game, the 2021 Arizona Fall League season is less than a full week away from wrapping up for the year.

The Scorpions (11-16) trail the first-place Mesa Solar Sox (13-11) by 3 1/2 games) and play three more regular season games beginning on Tuesday. The championship game between the top teams from each division will then take place on Saturday, November 20, and be broadcasted on MLB Network.

Picture of Kole Cottam and Triston Casas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas selected to 2021 Fall Stars Game

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas has been named a 2021 Arizona Fall League Fall Star, the league announced on Wednesday morning.

Casas will represent the Sox and the Scottsdale Scorpions when he suits up for the East Division Fall Stars team this coming Saturday. Fellow Red Sox prospect Jeter Downs was also named a final vote candidate.

One of eight prospects Boston sent to Arizona, Casas has put together a strong showing in his brief time with the Scorpions. Through 17 AFL games, the 21-year-old first baseman is slashing an impressive .333/.457/.424 to go along with three doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, 15 runs scored, 13 walks, and 17 strikeouts over 81 plate appearances thus far.

Among the top hitters in this year’s installment of the Arizona Fall League, Casas ranks seventh in hits (22), ninth in runs scored, ninth in walks, ninth in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage, 23rd in slugging percentage, and 19th in OPS (.881), per MLB.com.

Casas, who turns 22 in January, has certainly had an action-packed 2021 season. He began the year with Double-A Portland, left the team on two separate occasions to ultimately help the United States baseball team win a silver medal in the Summer Games in Tokyo, and was promoted to Triple-A Worcester in late September.

The left-handed hitting infielder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system a little more than three years after he was selected by the Sox in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.).

Downs, meanwhile, will have a chance to join Casas in this weekend’s Fall Stars Game in Scottsdale.

The 23-year-old infielder, who also hails from the Miami-area, comes into play Wednesday batting .196/.393/.522 with five homers, 14 RBIs, nine runs scored, four stolen bases, 14 walks, and 15 strikeouts across 13 games (61 plate appearances) for the Scorpions.

Fans have until 2 p.m. eastern time on Friday to vote Downs into the Fall Stars Game, as he is competing against the likes of Giants prospect Marco Luciano and Rockies prospect Michael Toglia. Voting can be done by following this link.

As previously mentioned, the Fall Stars Game itself takes place on Saturday night. First pitch from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is slated for 7 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Taylor Jackson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas boasting .455 on-base percentage in Arizona Fall League; ‘We’re really excited about him,’ Chaim Bloom says

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas continues to have no issues with getting on base in the Arizona Fall League.

Starting at first base and batting cleanup for the Scottsdale Scorpions on Monday afternoon, Casas went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, an RBI, two runs scored, and was hit by a pitch as part of an 11-10 loss to the Mesa Solar Sox at Sloan Park.

With approximately 675 spectators in attendance, Casas began his productive day at the plate by ripping a two-out single off Cubs right-hander Ryan Jensen in the top of the first inning and later scoring on a bases-loaded RBI single from Giants prospect Marco Luciano.

After committing a fielding error in the bottom half of the frame, Casas was drilled by a pitch from Jensen in the second, but was stranded at first base.

In the top of the third, however, Casas bounced back when he laced a run-scoring single back up the middle off Athletics righty Brock Whittlesey that plated Giants prospect Will Wilson to make it an 8-0 contest in favor of Scottsdale.

Casas himself scored his side’s 10th run and his second run of the afternoon later in the inning, but that would prove to be the Scorpions’ last bit of offense with Solar Sox pitching shutting them out the rest of the way on their way to a comeback victory.

While Scottsdale may have fallen to an underwhelming 8-15 on the AFL season, Casas raised his batting line with the Scorpions up to an impressive .333/.455/.429 to go along with three doubles, one home run, nine RBI, 15 runs scored, 12 walks, and 16 strikeouts over 16 games spanning 77 plate appearances.

Among qualified hitters in the Arizona Fall League this year, Casas ranks seventh in hits (21), ninth in batting average, eighth in on-base percentage, 23rd in slugging percentage, and 20th in OPS (.883), per MLB.com.

Casas, who turns 22 in January, is currently regarded by Baseball America as both the top prospect and the best hitter for average in the Red Sox farm system.

This past season, the left-handed hitting infielder began the year with Double-A Portland, where he slashed .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 and 329 total trips to the plate.

Casas’ time with the Sea Dogs was interrupted on two separate occasions due to his commitment to Team USA. The former first-round draft pick helped the United States baseball team win a silver medal in the Summer Games in Tokyo before returning stateside for good in early August.

Shortly thereafter, Casas earned himself a promotion to Triple-A Worcester for the final stretch of the minor-league season on September 22. He batted .242/.381/.485 (130 wRC+) with three doubles, one triple, one home run, seven RBI, six runs, one stolen base, eight walks, and eight strikeouts in nine games (42 plate appearances) for the WooSox.

Because of the time he missed while playing for Team USA, the Red Sox opted to have Casas play in the Arizona Fall League in order to get more at-bats against some of the brightest pitching prospects in baseball.

It goes without saying that the decision to have Casas play in the desert has paid off thus far. The Sox are clearly excited with what they have in the 21-year-old, but will not take any shortcuts in his development.

When speaking with reporters on Sunday night, Red Sox chief baseball officer acknowledged as much, noting that getting Casas to the majors is not the team’s top priority since they have other options available at first base, such as Bobby Dalbec.

“Triston just got to Triple-A,” Bloom said. “I know he’s getting some reps in the fall league right now. But you guys have heard me say and know how I feel about that level (Triple-A) being a real test. We want to make sure that somebody has mastered that level before you have them take on the huge adjustment to the major-leagues.

“But, you know, in the long run, we’re really excited about him,” added Bloom. “And that doesn’t preclude us from adding other options to help us in the near, or in the medium term.”

So, while Casas may be in line to make his big-league debut at some point during the 2022 season, the Red Sox will by no means be rushing things with the 6-foot-5, 250 pound first baseman from Miami.

In the meantime, though, Casas should be on track to play in the Fall Stars Game at Salt Rivers Field this coming Saturday.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Norm Hall/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs catching fire in Arizona Fall League

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs may only be a few weeks removed from an overall tough season with Triple-A Worcester this year, but the young middle infielder has certainly gotten off to a hot start in the Arizona Fall League.

Playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions alongside other Red Sox, Indians, Twins, Giants, and Rays prospects, Downs went 2-for-4 with a home run, an RBI, two runs scored, one walk, and one strikeout as part of an 11-9 loss to the Mesa Solar Sox at Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Batting out of the two-hole behind Rays prospect Matt Dyer and ahead of Twins prospect Matt Wallner, Downs began his day by crushing a solo shot off Marlins prospect Evan Fitterer with one out in the bottom of the first inning, marking the third straight game in which he has homered.

The 23-year-old, who was playing shortstop on Wednesday (and can also play second base), later drew an eight-pitch walk with no outs in the third inning, struck out on four pitches in the fifth inning, flew out to center field for the final out of the seventh inning, and led off the ninth inning with a single before scoring on a passed ball to wrap up what was a productive afternoon at the plate and on the base paths.

Since the 2021 Arizona Fall League season began on October 13, Downs has appeared in four games for the Scorpions and — following Wednesday’s strong performance — is currently slashing .357/.550/1.000 with three home runs, six RBI, five runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and three strikeouts over 20 trips to the plate.

One of three players (two prospects) the Red Sox acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles last February, Downs finally got his first taste of Triple-A action this year after the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the hole, the 2021 campaign was not a particularly encouraging one for Downs. While he was selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game in Denver over the summer, the right-handed hitter overall struggled to the tune of a .190/.272/.333 (62 wRC+) across 99 games and 405 plate appearances with the WooSox.

That being said, Downs was at least able to salvage his season towards the end, and it came right around the same time fellow top Sox Prospect and Miami-area native Triston Casas earned a promotion to Worcester in late September.

From Sept. 17 until the Triple-A season came to a close on October 3, Downs hit an impressive .355/.400/.581 (158 wRC+) with one double, two homers, seven RBI, three runs scored, one stolen base, two walks, and eight strikeouts over his final nine games (35 plate appearances) of the year. Casas was promoted from Double-A Portland right in the middle of that stretch on Sept. 22.

Downs, who does not turn 24 until next July, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks three spots behind Casas, who is also playing for the Scorpions with five other Red Sox prospects in left-hander Brendan Cellucci, right-handers Andrew Politi, Connor Seabold, and Josh Winckowski, catcher Kole Cottam, and infielder Christian Koss.

Connor Wong is also listed on Scottsdale’s roster, but the catching prospect is currently with the Red Sox as part of their taxi squad for their American League Championship Series clash with the Astros.

Going back to Downs, the 5-foot-11, 193 pounder out of Colombia can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this winter if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November 2020 deadline.

When speaking with The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan recently, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham relayed that Downs wanted to play in the Arizona this fall even after a long and full season with Worcester.

Abraham also indicated that the Sox view Downs “as an up-the-middle, impact player” who is capable of driving the baseball while playing sound defense and running the bases.

“He’s an all-around player,” Abraham said, “and that’s really exciting for us.”

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Norm Hall / MLB Photos via Getty Images)