Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas was removed in the seventh inning of Triple-A Worcester’s 4-3 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park on Tuesday night.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Casas was visited at first base by WooSox manager Chad Tracy and trainer David Herrera before being lifted in favor of Roberto Ramos.
To that point in the contest, Casas had gone 1-for-2 with one walk and one strikeout. Following Worcester’s come-from-behind victory that snapped a 10-game losing streak, it was revealed why the 22-year-old had to come out of the game.
“I played the next two innings and felt fine,” Casas explained. “They told me if I felt it at all, whether it was hurting a little bit, to let them know. The same motion I made injuring it, or hurting it, was the same motion I need to do to hit, so I was telling them to get (Roberto) Ramos to come into hit for me.”
Ramos did end up taking over for Casas at first base, but it does not appear as though the promising infielder sustained any sort of long-term injury that will require him to miss an extended period of time.
“It was just for precautionary reasons,” said Casas. “I feel good now. We’re going to see how I come in tomorrow, and we’ll take it slow. I feel good.”
Through 36 games with the WooSox this season, Casas is batting .248/.359/.457 with nine doubles, six home runs, 22 RBIs, 22 runs scored, 23 walks, and 35 strikeouts over 156 plate appearances.
The left-handed hitting 22-year-old is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 19th-ranked prospect in all of baseball. He is expected to make his major-league debut for the Red Sox at some point this year.
(Picture of Triston Casas: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Infielder Jeter Downs, left-hander Jay Groome, and right-handers Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, and Josh Winckowski were all optioned to Triple-A Worcester. On the other side of things, infielders Triston Casas, David Hamilton, and Christian Koss, left-hander Chris Murphy, and right-handers Durbin Feltman and Brian Keller were all reassigned to minor-league camp.
Downs, Groome, Mata, Seabold, and Winckowski were optioned to Worcester since they are on Boston’s 40-man roster. According to SoxProspects.com’s roster projections, all but Groome are expected to begin the 2022 season with the WooSox. Mata, of course, is still recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent last April.
With these five getting optioned, the Red Sox’ spring training roster now consists of 34 40-man roster players. Notables who remain following Wednesday’s cuts include Eduard Bazardo, Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Ronaldo Hernandez, Connor Wong, Jonathan Arauz, and Jarren Duran.
Elsewhere, six non-40-man roster players were sent back to minor-league spring training. Of these six, the most notable is undoubtedly Casas, who is regarded by many — including Baseball America — as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system.
Casas, Feltman, and Keller seem like locks to begin the year with Worcester, while Hamilton, Koss, and Murphy are projected by SoxProspects.com to start out with Double-A Portland.
All told, the Red Sox now have 55 players in major-league camp with Opening Day against the Yankees on April 7 fast approaching.
(Picture of Jeter Downs: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
To nobody’s surprise, this group is headlined by the infield trio of Marcelo Mayer, Triston Casas, and Nick Yorke. This is certainly interesting when you consider the fact that Mayer (2021), Yorke (2020), and Casas (2018) were the last three players the Red Sox selected in the first round of the amateur draft.
Mayer is regarded by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline as Boston’s top overall prospect, while FanGraphs and SoxProspects have him at No. 2. Casas, on the other hand, is ranked No. 1 by FanGraphs and SoxProspects but No. 2 by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. Yorke is ranked No. 3 by all four.
This is how the order was determined. For instance, the average of Casas’ four rankings and Mayer’s four rankings comes out to 1.5 [(1+1+2+2)/4)]. The tiebreaker went to Mayer since he is younger then Casas. From there, Yorke and 30 additional Red Sox prospects were ranked, with left-hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland rounding things out at No. 33.
With that, here is the full list of 33 beginning with Mayer and ending with Wu-Yelland. Let’s get to it.
Baseball America organizational rank: 31 FanGraphs organizational rank: 41 MLB Pipeline organizational rank: Not Ranked SoxProspects organizational rank: 35
Other prospects who missed the cut but are still worth monitoring this season include pitchers Eduard Bazardo, Durbin Feltman, Luis Perales, and Jacob Wallace as well as position players like Cameron Cannon, Tyler Dearden, Ryan Fitzgerald, Niko Kavadas, Enderso Lira, and Stephen Scott, among others.
(Picture of Marcelo Mayer and Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
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)
The Red Sox have added 12 non-roster invitees to their spring training roster, the club announced earlier Saturday. The list of invitees consists of catcher Kole Cottam, infielders Triston Casas, Ryan Fitzgerald, David Hamilton, and Christian Koss, outfielder Franchy Cordero, and pitchers Chris Murphy, Durbin Feltman, Geoff Hartlieb, Brian Keller, Kaleb Ort, and John Schreiber.
Of these 12 minor-leaguers, four (Cordero, Hartlieb, Ort, and Schreiber) have already played in the majors while two (Hamilton and Keller) were acquired by Boston in some capacity this off-season.
Casas, 22, is undoubtedly the top prospect on this list. The left-handed hitting first baseman enters the 2022 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in the Sox’ farm system behind only Marcelo Mayer. He is coming off a year in which he played for Double-A Portland, Triple-A Worcester, Team USA in the Summer Olympics, and the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.
Kottam and Koss played alongside Casas in Arizona last fall. Hamilton, meanwhile, suited up for the Salt River Rafters before he and fellow infielder Alex Binelas were traded from the Brewers to the Red Sox in December.
Among the pitching contingent, Murphy — a left-hander — and Feltman are the only two true prospects listed. That being said, Keller is certainly appealing seeing how he was scooped up from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft earlier this winter.
With the addition of these 12 players, the Red Sox now have 23 non-roster invitees on their spring training roster.
BOSTON RED SOX NON-ROSTER INVITEES (23)
PITCHERS (12): Silvino Bracho, Taylor Cole, Tyler Danish, Michael Feliz, Durbin Feltman, Darin Gillies, Geoff Hartlieb, Brian Keller, Zack Kelly, Chris Murphy, Kaleb Ort, John Schreiber
CATCHERS (2): Roldani Baldwin, Kole Cottam
INFIELDERS (6): Triston Casas, Ryan Fitzgerald, David Hamilton, Christian Koss, Roberto Ramos, Yolmer Sánchez
OUTFIELDERS (3): Franchy Cordero, Rob Refsnyder, Christin Stewart
According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Boston will officially open big-league camp in Fort Myers on Sunday, though their first official workout is not expected until Monday or Tuesday.
Reed, 24, was selected by the Sox in the minor-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft after spending the first four years of his professional career in the Rangers organization.
A former eighth-round draft pick of the Rangers out of Itawamba Community College in 2017, Reed had made it as far as the High-A level in his time with Texas before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season.
Upon joining the Red Sox organization that December, Reed returned to the High-A level for the start of the 2021 campaign as he broke minor-league camp with the Greenville Drive.
In his first 48 games for Greenville, the hulking right-handed hitter batted an impressive .296/.405/.587 (160 wRC+) to go along with eight doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 50 RBIs, 40 runs scored, four stolen bases, 30 walks, and 55 strikeouts across 215 plate appearances.
Following a 3-for-3 showing against the Asheville Tourists on July 15, Reed was promoted to Double-A Portland on the very same day fellow first baseman Triston Casas left the Sea Dogs to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics.
With an uptick in competition level, Reed saw his strikeout rate rise (25.6% to 33.5%) and his walk rate fall (14.0% to 11.2%) with Portland while slashing .239/.335/.370 (95 wRC+) with nine doubles, three homers, 21 RBIs, 20 runs scored, 18 walks, and 54 strikeouts over 44 games spanning 161 trips to the plate.
On the 2021 season as a whole, Reed interestingly fared far better against right-handed pitching (.933 OPS in 291 PAs) than he did against lefties (.634 OPS in 85 PAs).
Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 250 pounder saw the majority of his playing time between Greenville and Portland come at first base. He committed a total of three errors while logging 499 innings at that position and also logged 148 innings as a left fielder in Portland.
Reed, who turns 25 in June, is not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. As noted by Pontes, the Mississippi native’s “carrying tool has long been his power, but his struggles with contact have led to struggles against spin and more advanced pitching.”
With all that being said, Reed is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Portland for the start of the 2022 season, which begins in one month. Perhaps he can use what he learned last year and make the necessary adjustments to get off to a fast start this spring.
The Red Sox first base prospect who gets all these attention these days is undoubtedly Triston Casas, who some believe is the top overall prospect in Boston’s farm system.
That being said, there is another minor-league first baseman within the Sox’ ranks who is coming off an impressive season at the plate in 2021 and his name is Pedro Castellanos.
Castellanos, 24, was originally signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2016. He received a mere $5,000 signing bonus and debuted in the Dominican Summer League that same year.
After making it as far as High-A in 2019, Castellanos had his 2020 season taken out from under him as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no invite to the alternate training site to be had that summer, though he was able to make up for some lost time by taking part in fall instructs.
On the heels of that limited development window, Castellanos reported to minor-league camp the following spring and opened the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland.
As a member of the Sea Dogs, Castellanos missed some time due to two separate stints on the injured list in June and August-September. When healthy, though, the right-handed hitter batted a stout .289/.364/.471 (128 wRC+) to go along with 14 doubles, three triples, a career-high 13 home runs, 44 RBIs, 66 runs scored, two stolen bases, 32 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 87 games and 325 plate appearances.
Upon returning from the injured list for a second time in September, Castellanos closed out his year by slashing a red-hot .375/.432/.688 (194 wRC+) over his final eight games and 37 trips to the plate.
Against left-handed pitchers, Castellanos posted an OPS of .885. Against right-handed pitchers, that OPS only dropped down to a still-respectable .822.
Among hitters in the Double-A Northeast who accrued at least 350 plate appearances last year, Castellanos ranked sixth in runs scored, fifth in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage, ninth in OPS (.835), ninth in wRC+, and fifth in strikeout rate (17.1%), per FanGraphs.
Defensively, Castellanos has primarily been a first baseman throughout his pro career. With Casas needing playing time in Portland last season, though, Castellanos was moved off first base entirely.
Instead, the 6-foot-3, 244 pounder logged 509 2/3 innings in left field, eight innings in center field, and 154 innings in right field with the Sea Dogs. He recorded a total of seven outfield assists, helped turn two double plays, and registered three errors between those three spots.
Earlier in the off-season, Castellanos headed back to his home country to suit up for Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League. While seeing playing time at first base and both corner outfield positions, the Carora native hit .313/.361/.550 with eight homers and 21 RBIs across 38 games and 144 plate appearances.
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Castellanos is limited by his defensive profile. It states that he is a “potential average defender at first base and below-average defender in the outfield” who has “fringe to average arm strength.”
While his defense may be weighing him down at the moment, Castellanos is still relatively young and has hit at every level he’s played at in the minors — as evidenced by his .300 career batting average.
Despite being Rule 5 eligible this winter, Castellanos — who turns 25 in December — is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season with Portland, though an early promotion to Triple-A Worcester certainly seams plausible.
2022 marks Castellanos’ seventh year with the Red Sox organization, so he is slated to become a minor-league free agent in November if he is not retained by the club in some capacity beforehand.
Triston Casas was not the only infield prospect the Red Sox took out of a Florida high school in the 2018 amateur draft.
20 rounds after picking Casas, Boston nabbed George Jenkins High School infielder Brandon Howlett with their 21st overall selection. At that time, the Lakeland, Fla. native was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 399 draft-eligible prospect and was committed to play college baseball at Florida State University.
Rather than move ahead with his commitment to the Seminoles, though, Howlett signed with the Sox for $185,000 that June and quickly debuted in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League just days after putting pen to paper.
After posting a .930 OPS in 39 GCL contests, the then-18-year-old earned a late-season promotion to Low-A Lowell and put himself in a good position entering his first full year of pro ball.
Coming into the 2019 campaign, Howlett was regarded by Baseball America as the 14th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. In spite of those lofty expectations placed upon a teenager’s shoulders, the right-handed hitting third baseman struggled to the tune of a .231/.341/.356 slash line across 113 games (465 plate appearances) with Class-A Greenville.
As a result of a .698 OPS in 2019, Howlett’s stock took a bit of a hit heading into 2020. He, like a majority of minor-leaguers, then fell victim to the fact that the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of receiving an invite to the Sox’ alternate training site that summer, Howlett was left to continue developing on his own time. He did just that, but apparently ‘failed to impress’ at the team’s instructional league that fall.
On the heels of a lost year in 2020, Howlett fell off Baseball America’s Red Sox top 30 prospects rankings entirely last spring. He once again broke camp with Greenville, though the Drive had since moved up from the Class-A to High-A level.
This time around with the Drive, things were different. In 96 games, Howlett batted .253/.345/.469 (117 wRC+) to go along with 19 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs, 57 RBIs, 62 runs scored, two stolen bases, 44 walks, and 136 strikeouts over 414 plate appearances. He also missed a week of action from late June through early July due to a concussion.
From August 22 on, Howlett closed out his bounce-back season by slashing a robust .307/.373/.587 and putting up 151 wRC+ over the final 19 games (83 plate appearances) he played in.
Among those in the High-A East who made at least 400 trips to the plate last year, Howlett ranked 11th in doubles, 10th in home runs, sixth in walk rate (10.6%), seventh in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, eighth in OPS (.815), ninth in isolated power (.217), and eighth in wRC+, per FanGraphs.
Defensively, Howlett has only played third base throughout his pro career and that remained to be the case in 2021. The 22-year-old logged 745 2/3 innings at the hot corner and committed a total of 17 errors there.
Based off his most recent Baseball America scouting report from over the summer, there seems to be some concern about whether Howlett will be able to remain at third base in the long-term. That said, he did end 2021 as the publication’s 23rd-ranked Red Sox prospect.
Seeing how he found success at High-A last year, it was somewhat interesting to realize that Howlett was not among the group of minor-leaguers who took part in the Sox’ Winter Warm-Up minicamp in Fort Myers last month.
Regardless of that, though, Howlett is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season with Double-A Portland. The 6-foot-1, 205 pounder does not turn 23 until September and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time next winter.
If the Red Sox do not want to risk losing Howlett in the Rule 5 Draft, they would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline. That very well could end up being the case if he excels with the Sea Dogs this year.
At this time last year, the Sox had Baseball America’s 21st-ranked farm system going into the 2021 campaign. They then jumped all the way up to ninth in BA’s midseason rankings.
Now, Boston’s farm system falls just outside of Baseball America’s top 10. Ahead of the Red Sox are the Mariners, Rays, Pirates, Orioles, Royals, Tigers, Reds, Dodgers, Rangers, and Diamondbacks, and just behind them are the Guardians, Yankees, Twins, and Cubs to make up the top 15.
Casas and Yorke were among the 28 Red Sox minor-leaguers who took part in the team’s Winter Warmup program in Fort Myers, Fla. last week. Bello and Duran were unable to participate since they are on the club’s 40-man roster.
In their brief assessment of the Red Sox’ minor-league pipeline, Baseball America notes that “Boston’s system isn’t the deepest, but its opening trio of shortstop Marcelo Mayer, first baseman Triston Casas and second baseman Nick Yorke is one of the most enticing. Right-hander Brayan Bello took steps forward in 2021, including an appearance in Denver at the Futures Game.”
By placing two prospects in BA’s top 20 and three in their top 35, the Sox have shown that they are serious about improving their farm system as well as their minor-league depth as a whole. Chaim Bloom has made that very clear since he took over as the club’s chief baseball officer in October 2019.
Under Bloom, the Red Sox have tapped into just about every market to bolster the organization from the ground up. Whether it be through the draft, the Rule 5 Draft, international scouting, pro scouting, or the trade market, Bloom has thus far made good on his promise to revamp Boston’s farm system while still maintaining a competitive team at the major-league level.
(Picture of Triston Casas: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox)
Despite being born and raised on opposite sides of the country, Triston Casas and Nick Yorke share something in common in that they are both former first-round draft picks of the Red Sox.
Casas, a Florida native, was selected by Boston in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft while Yorke, a California native, was selected by Boston in the first round of the 2020 amateur draft.
Both highly-touted prospects coming out of their respective high schools, the pair of young infielders first got to know each other at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket during the final weeks of the compressed 2020 season.
Last year, each of Casas and Yorke received an invite to major-league spring training and the two became roommates in Fort Myers as a result.
While the duo went their separate ways and were assigned to different affiliates once minor-league camp broke in May, they both enjoyed great success on an individual level in 2021.
Casas, in what his his third professional season, split the year between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester, though he needed to step away from affiliated ball for a few weeks over the summer to help Team USA win a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
Across 86 games with the Sea Dogs and WooSox, Casas batted a respectable .279/.394/.484 to go along with 15 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 59 RBIs, 63 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 57 walks, and 71 strikeouts over 371 total plate appearances. The left-handed hitting first baseman also posted a .982 OPS in 21 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.
Yorke, getting his first true taste of pro ball, initially got off to a slow start with Low-A Salem, but performed exceptionally enough there to earn a promotion to High-A Greenville in late August. Between the two Class-A levels, the right-handed hitting second baseman slashed an astounding .325/.412/.516 with 20 doubles, five triples, 14 homers, 62 RBIs, 76 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 52 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 97 total games spanning 442 trips to the plate.
While receiving plenty of attention for what they did on the field over the course of the 2021 campaign, Casas and Yorke were both recently recognized by Baseball America as two of the top-40 prospects in the game heading into the 2022 season.
Subsequently, the Red Sox kicked off a weeklong minicamp at their Fenway South complex on Monday. This “Winter Warm-Up” program was implemented with the idea of getting a larger group of prospects and minor-leaguers into a warmer climate.
Of the 28 players who were invited to participate in this minicamp, Casas and Yorke obviously stick out as the headliners given their standing as two of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system.
With the opportunity to further their development, though, also comes the opportunity to build upon previously established relationships. Casas and Yorke are clearly close already, but are once again rooming up down in Southwest Florida.
Casas was among those who spoke with reporters on Wednesday. He seems to like playing with Yorke, noting that the two have “gravitated toward each other.”
There is a chance that Casas and Yorke are among those who stick around in Fort Myers until minor-league camp begins in full around mid-March.
While Casas, who turned 22 this month, is projected to begin the 2022 season with Worcester and Yorke, who turns 20 in April, is projected to begin the 2022 season with Greenville, the former is hopeful that he will be sharing the same infield with the latter before long.
“I know we’ll be teammates soon,” Casas said of Yorke. “He’ll catch up to me soon.”
(Picture of Triston Casas: Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images)