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)

Red Sox Prospect Noah Song Receives Orders to Report to Flight School

Red Sox prospect Noah Song has received his marching orders and will report to flight school in Pensacola no later than June 26th, according to The Capital Gazette’s Bill Wagner.

Per Wagner, the order for Song to report to flight school was handed down by the Department of Defense, and it comes about eight months after the California native submitted a request to the DoD “seeking a transfer to the Navy Reserve so he could continue his professional baseball career during the 2020 season.”

However, after waiting quite a while for a response to that request, Song in April “submitted an updated request to pursue flight training after all.”

The 2019 fourth-round pick graduated from the Naval Academy last May and was allowed to play two months of minor-league baseball with the short-season Lowell Spinners over the summer.

Song was impressive in that stretch, as he emerged as the Red Sox’ sixth-ranked prospect by posting a 1.06 ERA and .167 batting average against over seven starts and 17 innings pitched for Lowell.

Despite the success he had to kick off his professional career, both with Lowell and Team USA in last fall’s Premier 12 tournament, Song will have to put his major-league aspirations on hold for the time being.

As Wagner puts it, “Training to be designated as a naval flight officer typically lasts approximately 18 months. It begins with aviation indoctrination at Naval Air Station Pensacola and continues with specialized training for whichever aircraft platform the service member is assigned.

“If Song’s training starts this summer, he would not be designated as a naval flight officer until sometime in 2022. However, he could receive his wings as an aviator after about a year of training.”

It does seem like the former is more likely than the latter in this case, though, so the next time we see Song, who turned 23 in May, with the Red Sox in some capacity will probably be sometime in 2022.

 

Red Sox Still Unsure of Noah Song’s Status Moving Forward

The Red Sox have yet to receive word from the United States Navy about right-handed pitching prospect Noah Song’s waiver to delay his military service commitment, general manager Brian O’Halloran said Tuesday.

Song, who turns 23 in May, was due to report to flight school in Pensacola, Fla. this month to begin training as a Naval Flight Officer.

Per Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, Song is, “awaiting a decision from the Department of Defense on whether he will be able to defer his two-year active service requirement in order to play baseball.”

The 2019 fourth-round pick out of the Naval Academy posted a 1.06 ERA and 2.80 xFIP in seven starts and 17 innings pitched for short-season Lowell over the summer. He also made five scoreless appearances for Team USA in the Premier 12 tournament in the fall.

“He’s very impressive,” O’Halloran said of the Sox’ No. 15 prospect. “We’ll see where it all goes with his obligation. We’re looking forward to hopefully having him on the field when we have him on the field. We’re looking forward to seeing him progress as a pitcher.”

Evaluating How Red Sox Prospects C.J. Chatham, Bobby Dalbec, Tanner Houck, and Noah Song Performed for Team USA in Premier12 Tournament

Team USA was officially eliminated from the Premier12 tournament on Sunday afternoon in Tokyo, as they fell to Team Mexico in the bronze medal game by a final score of 3-2 in 10 innings to temporarily squash their hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games.

As has already been mentioned on here, four Red Sox prospects made up the 28-man Team USA roster four this tournament, so I thought it would be a good time to go over how each of C.J. Chatham, Bobby Dalbec, Tanner Houck, and Noah Song fared over the last few weeks. Let’s get to it.

C.J. Chatham

Chatham, who turns 25 in December, slashed .292/.292/.417 with three doubles and two runs scored over seven games for Team USA in this tournament. He also committed just one error over that same span while manning both second base and left field.

A third-round pick out of Florida Atlantic University in 2016, Chatham needed to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by November 20th in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place later in December. He is listed as Boston’s ninth-ranked prospect on MLB.com.

Bobby Dalbec

Dalbec was named to the tournament’s All-World Team as a first baseman for his efforts, as the 24-year-old posted a .250/.364/.500 slash line to go along with two home runs and eight RBI over eight games for Team USA.

The Washington native could have had the game-winning RBI with a run-scoring single in the top half of the seventh to put his side up 2-1…

…but Team Mexico rallied with a run of their own in ninth to tie it and another in the 10th to walk it off.

Like Chatham, Dalbec, who is ranked as Boston’s No. 2 prospect, needs to be added to the club’s 40-man roster by November 20th.

Tanner Houck

Houck made two starts for Team USA in this tournament, with the first coming against Team Mexico on November 3rd and the second coming against Team Australia on the 13th.

In those two outings, the 23-year-old right-hander surrendered five runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits and two walks to go along with 11 strikeouts over 9 1/3 total innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 3.86 and a batting average against of .206.

Ranked as the Sox’ No. 5 prospect, Houck is interesting in that he worked as both a starter and reliever in 2019, but the plan for him now seems to be to remain in the starting rotation, wherever that may be.

Noah Song

I mentioned how impressive Song had been in this tournament this past Friday. The 22-year-old right-hander made one final appearance for Team USA on Sunday, entering with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, walking one, getting another to fly out to end the frame, and then retiring the only three hitters he faced in order in the eighth.

All in all, Song did not surrender a single run over his five relief outings and 5 1/3 innings pitched this month.

A graduate of the Naval Academy back in May, Song will head to flight school in Pensacola, Fla. in December and is currently awaiting a decision from the Department of Defense on whether he’ll be able to defer his two-year active service requirement.

 

Red Sox’ Second-Ranked Prospect Bobby Dalbec Crushes Grand Slam for Team USA as Part of 9-0 Win Over Team Netherlands in Premier12 Tournament Opener

Team USA opened 2019 World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 tournament play with a dominating 9-0 shutout win over Team Netherlands in Guadalajara on Saturday afternoon, and a couple of Red Sox prospects played a significant role in the victory.

Yup, the club’s No. 2 prospect Bobby Dalbec, No. 9 prospect C.J Chatham, and No. 15 prospect Noah Song all played on Saturday. Here’s how they fared in Team USA’s opener.

Starting with Dalbec, the 24-year-old went 2-for-4 hitting out of the four-hole in this one, and he also came through with Team USA’s most productive hit of the afternoon in the bottom half of the fifth inning.

With two outs and the bases full following an intentional walk of Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Daulton Varsho, Dalbec made Team Netherlands right-hander Lars Huijer pay for that he decision, as he unloaded on a 3-2 fastball and deposited it over everything in left field for the game-sealing grand slam.

That moonshot, which was promptly followed by a well-deserved bat drop, put Team USA up by seven runs.

A half inning later, in came Noah Song to relieve Team USA starter and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Cody Ponce after five solid frames of work.

The 22-year-old Naval Academy product worked his way around a one-out walk in an otherwise clean inning of relief, as he needed just 12 pitches to do his part in a combined two-hit shutout for Team USA pitching on Saturday.

Graduating from the Naval Academy earlier this year, Song finds himself in a unique spot, as he is required to serve two years active duty.

According to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams, Song could defer those two years and continue to pursue a career in baseball, but only if that deferment is approved by the Department of Defense. If not approved, Song would head to Pensacola, Fla. in December to begin training as a Naval flight officer.

“This is to be determined for me,” Song told McWilliams. “All I have to look forward to is
the next couple of weeks and trying to make the most out of it.”

C.J. Chatham, meanwhile, batted out of the nine-hole for Team USA on Saturday, and went 1-for-4 with a single.

Both Chatham and Dalbec need to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by November 20th in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place during winter meetings in December.

One Red Sox prospect who was not mentioned here is right-hander Tanner Houck, who is on Team USA’s roster as a starting pitcher, not a reliever.

Team USA’s next game of the Premier12 tournament comes against Team Mexico on Sunday at 8 PM eastern time.