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 infield prospect Cam Cannon off to strong start (.917 OPS, 158 wRC+) with High-A Greenville

For as much talk as there has been about what top Red Sox prospects Triston Casas and Nick Yorke have done since the start of the 2021 minor-league season, it’s easy to look past what another Sox infield prospect — Cam Cannon — is doing this month.

Like Casas and Yorke, Cannon was the first player the Red Sox selected in his respective draft. Unlike Casas and Yorke, though, Cannon was taken in the second round of the 2019 amateur draft, while Casas and Yorke were taken in the first rounds of the 2018 and 2020 amateur drafts.

The reason the Sox had to wait until the second round of the 2019 first-year player draft to make their first selection was due to the fact that they were penalized for exceeding the luxury tax threshold by more than $40 million the previous year.

Had they not incurred such a harsh penalty, Boston would have made their first pick in 2019 at No. 33 overall, but the luxury tax violation resulted in that pick falling 10 spots to No. 43 overall.

At that point, the Red Sox took Cannon, then a 21-year-old junior at the University of Arizona, off the board and ultimately signed him for $1.3 million that June.

After three games in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Cannon was called up to short-season Lowell, where he slashed .205/.289/.335 with three home runs, 21 RBI, 17 runs scored, 12 walks, and 37 strikeouts over 42 games to close out his first summer as a pro.

Like all 2019 draft picks, the Arizona native’s ongoing development was suddenly halted when the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With no minor-league season and no invitation to the Sox’ alternate training site, Cannon was limited to the fall instructional league last year, where he “garnered generally tepid reviews from scouts who saw him” there, according to FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen.

Coming into 2021, Cannon — unlike Casas and Yorke — also did not receive an invite to major-league spring training, so he had to wait until minor-league camp began in April to get back into the swing of things.

Despite the long layoff, the 23-year-old was assigned to High-A Greenville at the beginning of May and has gotten his 2021 campaign off to a strong start.

Through 17 games with the Drive, Cannon — who has primarily been batting out of the leadoff spot — is hitting a solid .313/.365/.552 to go along with three home runs, seven doubles, eight RBI, 12 runs scored, two stolen bases, five walks, and 12 strikeouts over 74 plate appearances thus far.

Among the top qualified hitters in the High-A East, the right-handed hitter ranks first in doubles, first in extra-base hits (10), third in total hits (21), 11th in runs scored, ninth in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging percentage, 10th in OPS (.917), 14th in weighted on-base average (.405), and 14th in wRC+ (158), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Cannon was drafted as a shortstop. But questions about his arm strength have resulted in him making the shift over to the right side of the infield, as he has played 11 games at second base compared to just three at shortstop for Greenville so far this season.

In those 14 games between second base and shortstop, the 5-foot-10, 196 pound infielder has committed a total of two errors over 114 total defensive innings.

There also seems to be some speculation that he could see playing time in left field if he were to make the move to the outfield down the line.

Back in March, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote of Cannon: “Early returns from 2021 will tell a lot about where his development is going.”

Just under three weeks into the 2021 minor-league season, and early returns on Cannon’s performance in Greenville appear to indicate that the young infielder is trending in the right direction.

(Picture of Cam Cannon: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas has homered 3 times in his last 2 games for Double-A Portland

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas followed up one of the best performances of his young career with another impressive showing for Double-A Portland on Thursday.

After crushing two home runs as part of a four-hit, six-RBI night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, Conn. on Wednesday, Casas belted a three-run homer — his third big fly in his last two games — while going 2-for-4 with three runs driven in.

Matched up against Rockies minor-league left-hander Nick Kennedy, the left-handed hitting first baseman came to the plate with runners at the corners in what at the time was a 3-2 game in favor of Portland.

On the fifth pitch he saw from Kennedy, Casas unloaded on a 93 mph fastball and deposited it to deep right-center field to clear the bases and put the Sea Dogs up 6-2.

He had previously singled in the first inning and also struck out twice to finish the night with two hits in four trips to the plate in what would go down as a narrow 6-5 victory for Portland.

What Casas has done these last two games against the Hartford Yard Goats is nothing short of a breakthrough considering the start he had gotten off to in his debut season in Double-A.

After making Portland’s Opening Day roster out of minor-league spring training earlier this month, the 21-year-old was slashing a measly .182/.280/.182 with no extra-base hits and just two RBI through his first six games of the year.

By going 6-for-10 with three home runs and nine RBI in his last two games, though, Casas has raised his batting average on the season 131 points to .313 and his OPS on the season 534 points all the way up to .996.

Casas was originally selected by Boston in the first round (26th overall pick) of the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Fla).

Even with no minor-league season last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Miami-area native was still able to impress Red Sox officials while at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket and even received an invitation to big-league camp earlier this spring.

“He’s a good hitter,” Red Sox manager Cora said of Casas before Thursday’s game against the Athletics. “He hasn’t played much baseball since he signed but it’s good to see him putting good swings. He knows the game, he knows his swing and he knows what to do with his swing. This is a guy — the future is bright, the way we see it, and he’s a very important piece of this organization.”

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Casas is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 37th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

Because he is still so young and has only played a handful of games above Single-A, Casas is still likely a long ways away from making his major-league debut with the Red Sox. He even said that at this point in time, he is not yet major-league ready.

“I’m not putting any expectations on myself this year. I don’t have any specific numbers in mind,”  Casas told MiLB.com’s Michael Avallone on Wednesday. “I just want to stay healthy, go out there every day and play hard to see where it gets me. I’m not Major League ready yet. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m happy to do it and get where I want to go.”

(Picture of Triston Casas: Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Triston Casas, top Red Sox prospect, belts 2 homers, drives in 6 runs as part of breakout performance for Double-A Portland

Triston Casas had gotten off to a rough start to begin the 2021 minor-league season.

After the 2020 season was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Casas made Double-A Portland’s Opening Day roster out of minor-league spring training earlier this month.

Coming into Wednesday night, the 21-year-old was carrying with him a .182/.280/.182 slash line with no extra-base hits and just two RBI through his first six games of the young season.

Wednesday served as somewhat of a springboard for Casas though, as the first baseman put together his best performance with the Sea Dogs to this point in Hartford, Conn.

Matched up against the Hartford Yard Goats, the Double-A affiliate of the Rockies, at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, Casas crushed his first two home runs of the year as part of a 4-for-6 night at the plate.

The first homer came off Rockies minor-league right-hander Will Gaddis in the top of the fourth inning and was an absolute no-doubter to right-center field.

The second homer came off righty Nate Harris with runners at the corners in the top of the sixth and was hit to nearly the same location.

Casas also knocked in two more runs on a two-run double in the seventh to finish the evening with six RBI as part of a commanding 14-3 victory for the Sea Dogs.

After Wednesday’s impressive showing, the left-handed hitting Casas raised his batting average on the season to .286 and now sports an OPS of .891.

“I’m feeling really good physically and mentally,” Casas told MiLB.com’s Michael Avallone following Wednesday’s contest. “Tonight I just shortened up my approach, didn’t go out of the [strike zone] and had some success. Hopefully I’ll keep riding this as long as I can, but I’m really happy to be back out there. I feel good.”

Casas, a native of Miami, was originally selected by the Red Sox with the 26th overall pick in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft.

Since then, the American Heritage High School product has risen through the ranks to the point where he is now regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 39th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Casas is still a ways away from garnering any big-league consideration. But if he shows that Wednesday’s performance was not a fluke and he can start to handle Double-A pitching on a consistent basis, then he might just be knocking on the door sooner rather than later.

“I’m not putting any expectations on myself this year. I don’t have any specific numbers in mind,” Casas said to Avallone. “I just want to stay healthy, go out there every day and play hard to see where it gets me. I’m not Major League ready yet. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m happy to do it and get where I want to go.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was among those who was impressed with what Casas did on Wednesday night, as he told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) Thursday afternoon.

“He’s a good hitter,” Cora said. “He hasn’t played much baseball since he signed but it’s good to see him putting good swings. He knows the game, he knows his swing and he knows what to do with his swing. This is a guy — the future is bright, the way we see it, and he’s a very important piece of this organization.”

(Picture of Triston Casas: Michael Reaves/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 option right-hander Tanner Houck to alternate training site

Following their 9-1 victory over the Twins on Wednesday, the Red Sox made their fifth round of spring roster cuts and, perhaps most significantly, optioned right-hander Tanner Houck to their alternate training site in Worcester.

The lone member of Boston’s 40-man roster involved in these moves, Houck was seen as a potential candidate to crack the team’s Opening Day starting rotation, but that no longer appears to be the case.

The 24-year-old righty impressed upon getting called up by the Sox last September, posting a 0.53 ERA and 3.25 FIP over his first three starts and 17 innings pitched in the majors.

Spring training thus far has been a different story for Houck, though, as the former first-round draft pick has struggled with his command to the tune of a 4:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He has also yielded six earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings of work through his first three appearances of the spring.

Given those struggles, as well as the fact that the club has adequate, upper-level rotation depth in the form of Matt Andriese and Garrett Whitlock, the Sox will let Houck continue to develop at the alternate site to start the new season.

This does not mean that Houck — currently regarded by Baseball America as the Red Sox’ No. 7 prospect — won’t pitch in Boston this year; it just means that his 2021 debut may come later than some may have expected.

In addition to Houck being optioned, the Sox also reassigned seven players — right-hander Daniel Gossett, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, catcher Kole Cottam, first basemen Triston Casas and Josh Ockimey, and outfielders Jarren Duran and Yairo Munoz — to minor-league camp.

This flurry of transactions leaves the Red Sox with 35 players on their major-league spring training roster. That number does not include Chris Sale or Franchy Cordero, who both remain on the injured list.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora on top prospect Triston Casas: ‘For him to be around us, it’s beneficial for us’

He may have gone hitless in his first start of the spring on Monday afternoon, but it was still encouraging to see top Red Sox prospect Triston Casas back on the field.

The 21-year-old infielder made his spring debut against the Twins on Sunday and went 0-for-2 after pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts in the sixth inning of an eventual 5-5 draw with the Twins.

On Monday, he started at designated hitter and eventually moved to first base while going 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk and a strikeout batting out of the nine-hole.

Again, even while not getting into the hit column against the Rays on Monday, Casas still put some of his tools on full display by drawing a six-pitch walk off Hunter Strickland in the second inning and by smoking a line-drive flyout to right field off left-hander Josh Fleming in the fourth.

Before making his Grapefruit League debut over the weekend, Casas had missed some time at Red Sox camp in Fort Myers after being evaluated for a non-baseball-related medical issue in Boston earlier this month.

Now that he is back at camp, it appears that the 2018 first-round draft pick will have the chance to get more in-game at-bats through the end of spring training.

“We know the hitter. I’m starting to know the player,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Casas earlier Monday morning. “He’s a guy that asks a lot of questions. He’s always checking where he’s at, what he needs to do. Yesterday, we had to move him to third base, and you could see he was prepared. He’s looking around, he’s looking at Carlos [Febles] pre-pitch. For him to get at-bats, it’s good. But just for him to be around us, it’s beneficial for us.”

According to Baseball America, the left-handed hitting Casas — listed at 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds — is the No. 1 prospect in Boston’s farm system going into the 2021 season.

The Miami-area native is projected to begin the 2021 season with Double-A Portland, but, as previously mentioned, he will presumably get the chance to get into some more Grapefruit League games these next few weeks.

“He had a big smile,” said Cora in regards to Casas’ first game back on Sunday. “For everything he went through the last few weeks, it was refreshing to see him out there.”

(Picture of Triston Casas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Jeter Downs, top Red Sox prospect, ‘OK’ after leaving Sunday’s game with left side soreness, could be ready to get back into games by Wednesday

After being removed from Sunday’s game against the Twins due to left side soreness, Red Sox infield prospect Jeter Downs was evaluated by the team on Monday.

“He’s OK,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of Downs’ status following Monday afternoon’s 3-2 loss at the hands of the Rays. “We don’t feel it’s oblique-related. It was a bruise. So hopefully treatment tomorrow and be ready to play in two days.”

Downs, 22, landed hard on his left side after diving for a groundball in the bottom half of the seventh inning of Sunday’s contest against Minnesota at Hammond Stadium.

He was lifted at shortstop for Chad De La Guerra, and it now appears as though he won’t return to Grapefruit League action until Wednesday at the earliest.

The right-handed hitter — listed at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds — is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in the Sox’ farm system behind only Triston Casas.

Through his first 11 games of the spring, Downs is 4-for-9 at the plate with one home run, three RBI, and two walks. He was reassigned to minor-league camp on Friday.

Cora recently praised Downs for his ability to slow down what’s going on around him while on the field and at the plate.

“Just like I’ve been saying about Nick (Yorke) and (Connor) Wong, there’s something about them that the game doesn’t speed up on them,” the Sox skipper said. “He’s very calm. Sometimes, it looks like he’s too calm on the field. But that’s not bad.

“You can see the approach at the plate,” added Cora. “He makes great swing decisions. Defensively, he struggled (one) day but besides that, he has been solid and he has been good. He learned a lot last year working with (minor-league coach Bruce Crabbe) as far as defense, his set-up and his pre-pitch. He took all that into camp. I’m very happy with him. We just need him to keep working, keep getting stronger. I think that’s going to help him out. He’s a good, solid player.”

Downs, who turns 23 in July, is projected to start the 2021 minor-league season at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)