Recapping how contingent of 8 Red Sox prospects performed in Arizona Fall League

The 2021 Arizona Fall League season came to a close on Saturday night, with the Mesa Solar Sox besting the Surprise Saguaros by a final score of 6-0 in the championship game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

With the Arizona Fall League making a triumphant return and closing out another exciting season in the desert, now is the time to reflect on how the contingent of prospects the Red Sox sent out west did in what is regarded by many as Major League Baseball’s “finishing school.”

Back in October, it was revealed that the Sox would be sending eight prospects to Arizona to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions alongside Guardians, Twins, Giants, and Rays minor-leaguers.

That initial list included catching prospect Connor Wong, but the backstop was ultimately replaced on Scottsdale’s roster by Christian Koss since he was a member of Boston’s taxi squad for the majority of their postseason run.

That said, the eight prospects who wound up representing the Red Sox were right-handers A.J. Politi, Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski, left-hander Brendan Cellucci, catcher Kole Cottam, first baseman Triston Casas, and infielders Jeter Downs and Koss.

So, without further ado, here is how each of those players fared during their time with the Scorpions, who finished the 2021 AFL campaign with a record of 12-18.

A.J. Politi, RHP

Politi began the minor-league season in Double-A Portland’s starting rotation, but ultimately transitioned back to the bullpen towards the end of the summer and remained there upon reporting to Scottsdale.

In 11 relief appearances this fall, the 25-year-old posted a 5.84 ERA and 1.86 WHIP to go along with 10 strikeouts to eight walks over 12 1/3 innings of work.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 15th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Seton Hall University, Politi is eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft since he was left unprotected and not added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday.

Connor Seabold, RHP

Seabold had quite the eventful first full season in the Red Sox organization after coming over from the Phillies alongside fellow righty Nick Pivetta in the same trade that sent relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia last August.

The 25-year-old hurler was already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster coming into 2021, but missed the first several weeks of the minor-league season due to right elbow inflammation and did not make his first start for Triple-A Worcester until July 23.

On September 11, Seabold made his major-league debut against the White Sox and allowed two earned runs in three innings before being optioned back to Worcester the following day and closing out the year with the WooSox.

With the Scorpions, Seabold led the team in innings pitched (20 1/3) while putting up a 4.87 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in addition to 32 strikeouts and 12 walks over six starts.

Josh Winckowski, RHP

One of five players the Red Sox acquired in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals in February, Winckowski emerged as one of the organization’s more intriguing pitching prospects in 2021 and was just protected from the Rule 5 Draft as a result of doing so.

Now a member of the Sox’ 40-man roster, Winckowski split the minor-league season between Portland and Worcester while mainly being used as a starter, but was strictly utilized as a reliever in the fall league.

Over six appearances out of Scottsdale’s bullpen, the 23-year-old produced a 6.55 ERA and 1.73 ERA while recording three strikeouts and four walks in his 11 innings of relief. He was also involved in a benches-clearing brawl with Pirates prospect Canaan Smith-Njigba earlier this month that resulted in both players getting ejected.

Brendan Cellucci, LHP

The lone southpaw representing the Red Sox in the AFL, Cellucci spent the entirety of the 2021 season at High-A Greenville and was one of six lefties on Scottsdale’s roster this fall.

In 10 outings out of the Scorpions bullpen, Cellucci yielded an ERA of 6.94 and WHIP of 1.89 while striking out 11 batters and walking seven over 11 2/3 innings pitched.

A native of Philadelphia who the Red Sox took out of Tulane University in the the 12th round of the 2019 draft, Cellucci does not turn 24 until next June and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career next winter.

Kole Cottam, C

Cottam began the year in Greenville and later earned himself a midseason promotion to Portland on July 29 while being regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in the Red Sox farm system.

A 2021 Arizona Fall League Fall Star, the 24-year-old backstop out of the University of Kentucky batted a solid .275/.356/.510 with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, seven runs scored, five walks, and 13 strikeouts over 15 games (59 plate appearances) for Scottsdale.

Like Politi, Cottam could have been added to Boston’s 40-man roster last week in order to receive protection from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. But the club elected not to do so, thus leaving him exposed if other teams are interested.

Triston Casas, 1B

The top prospect the Red Sox sent to Arizona, Casas put the finishing touches on an impressive year by putting his talent and skills on full display with the Scorpions.

Among qualified hitters in the AFL this year, Casas ranked fifth in batting average (.372), first in on-base percentage (.495), 26th in slugging percentage (.487), and 12th in OPS (.982) in the process of joining Cottam in the Fall Stars Game.

A former first-round pick out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.) in 2018, the left-handed hitting Casas — who turns 22 in January — figures to make his big-league debut for Boston at some point during the 2022 season.

Jeter Downs, 2B/SS

There was always going to be pressure on Downs since he was the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous Mookie Betts/David Price trade last February, but the 23-year-old infielder got his first taste of the Triple-A level this year and it did not go all that swimmingly.

Still, the Red Sox sent Downs to play in the fall league despite the struggles he endured over the summer and it now appears as though that decision paid off.

Across 16 games (72 plate appearances) for the Scorpions, Downs slashed .228/.389/.491 with five homers, 14 RBIs, nine runs scored, four stolen bases, 14 walks, and 18 strikeouts while playing both middle infield positions.

Like Winckowski, Downs was added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday, which came as no surprise.

Christian Koss, INF

Acquired from the Rockies in exchange for pitching prospect Yoan Aybar last December, Koss enjoyed a solid 2021 season with Greenville and later received an invite to play in the Arizona Fall League in order to replace the aforementioned Wong.

In 14 games with Scottsdale, the versatile infielder batted .229/.275/.250 to go along with one double, six RBIs, four runs scored, two stolen bases, three walks, and eight strikeouts across 51 total trips to the plate.

A product of University of California, Irvine who played on the Cape in 2017 and 2018, Koss has proven he is capable of playing second base, third base, and shortstop in the minors.

The right-handed hitter turns 23 in January and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career next winter.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Marcelo Mayer takes over top spot in Baseball America’s latest Red Sox prospect rankings

Baseball America unveiled its top 10 prospects within the Red Sox farm system heading into the 2022 season on Wednesday morning. Most notably, there is a new No. 1 in the ranks.

Previously occupied by Triston Casas, infielder Marcelo Mayer has taken over as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system going into 2022.

The Red Sox selected Mayer with the fourth overall pick in this year’s amateur draft out of Eastlake High School (Chula Vista, Calif.).

A University of Southern California commit, Mayer — with some help from area scout J.J. Altobelli — signed with the Sox for $6.64 million in late July and was subsequently assigned to the club’s rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate in Fort Myers.

With the FCL Red Sox, the left-handed hitting shortstop slashed .275/.377/.440 (121 wRC+) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 15 walks, and 27 strikeouts over 26 games spanning 107 plate appearances.

Going into this summer’s draft, Mayer was regarded as perhaps the best prep prospect available, and the Red Sox were able to capitalize on that after finishing with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36) in 2020 and thus receiving the No. 4 pick in the 2021 draft.

Mayer, who turns 19 next month, joins an exceptional list of Red Sox prospects to be regarded by Baseball America as the top minor-leaguer in Boston’s farm system, such as Xander Bogaerts, Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, and Bobby Dalbec.

While Mayer is likely going to start the 2022 minor-league season at Low-A Salem, him moving up to the top spot in Baseball America’s Red Sox prospect rankings means Casas has dropped to No. 2 spot.

Here is how the rest of Baseball America’s top-10 rankings for the Red Sox shake out.

3. Nick Yorke, 2B

4. Jarren Duran, OF

5. Brayan Bello, RHP

6. Jeter Downs, IF

7. Blaze Jordan, 1B

8. Bryan Mata, RHP

9. Josh Winckowski, RHP

10. Jay Groome, LHP

It should be noted that The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, who also serves as a contributor for Baseball America, was responsible for compiling this list. You can read more about his choices by clicking here and here.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/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 catching prospect Kole Cottam selected to 2021 Fall Stars Game, joining Triston Casas

Red Sox catching prospect Kole Cottam has been added to the East Division’s roster for Saturday night’s Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game, per his agency True Gravity Baseball.

Cottam will join fellow Red Sox prospect Triston Casas in representing the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 15th installment of Fall Stars Game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

The 24-year-old backstop was one of eight prospects Boston sent to Arizona last month to participate in the fall league. Through 14 games with Scottsdale, he has slashed an impressive .283/.370/.543 to go along with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, seven runs scored, five walks, and 11 strikeouts over 54 plate appearances.

Among all Arizona Fall League hitters this year, Cottam ranks 31st in doubles, 12th in home runs, 32nd in RBIs, 64th in runs scored, 39th in batting average, 53rd in on-base percentage, 19th in slugging percentage, 29th in OPS (.914), 16th in isolated power (.261), and 14th in at-bats per home run (15.33), per MLB.com.

Regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in the Sox’ farm system, Cottam will be one of three backstops on the East Division’s roster alongside the likes of Blue Jays prospect Gabriel Moreno and Giants prospect Kole Cottam.

The 6-foot-3, 235 pound right-handed hitter was originally selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Kentucky. After receiving an invite to major-league spring training, he opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville and earned a promotion to Double-A Portland in late July.

With the Scorpions, Cottam has caught six games for a total of 51 innings behind the plate. He has also played one game at first base while primarily serving as Scottsdale’s designated hitter.

The Red Sox likely sent Cottam, who does not turn 25 until next May, knowing that he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. Boston would need to add the native Tennessean to their 40-man roster by November 19 — or next Friday — in order to prevent that from happening.

While Cottam is starting Saturday’s Fall Stars Game on the bench, Casas is in Scottsdale’s starting lineup, batting sixth while getting the start at first base. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. eastern time on MLB Network, MLB.com, and the MLB app.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and senior vice president of baseball operations Ben Crockett are among those expected to be in attendance.

(Picture of Kole Cottam: Arizona Fall League)

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)

Red Sox to send 8 prospects to Arizona Fall League: Triston Casas, Jeter Downs among those who will play for Scottsdale Scorpions

Major League Baseball unveiled rosters for its six Arizona Fall League teams earlier Wednesday morning, and it turns out the Red Sox will be sending eight of their top prospects out west later this month.

After the COVID-19 pandemic halted things in 2020, the AFL is back in full swing this year, as the 2021 season is set to kick off on October 13.

The Red Sox, as well as the Indians, Twins, Giants, and Rays, will all be represented by the Scottsdale Scorpions of the AFL East Division. The Scorpions play their home games at Scottsdale Stadium and their season will be six weeks in length.

So, without further ado, here are the prospects the Sox will have play for the Scorpions to begin the 2021 AFL season, though more could join this group as the fall rolls along.

Pitchers (4): Brendan Cellucci, Andrew Politi, Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski

Catchers (2): Kole Cottam, Connor Wong

Infielders (2): Triston Casas, Jeter Downs

Of these eight prospects, Triston Casas is the lone representative in Baseball America’s top-100 rankings.

Casas, regarded by BA as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 15 prospect in baseball, put together a strong 2021 campaign in which he helped Team USA win a silver medal in the Olympic Games in Tokyo over the summer.

In addition to being named the best first baseman in that particular tournament, the 21-year-old posted a .284/.395/.484 slash line to go along with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 52 RBI, 57 runs scored, six stolen bases, 49 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 77 games (329 plate appearances) with Double-A Portland before earning a late promotion to Triple-A Worcester on September 22.

With the WooSox, Casas appeared in nine games and batted .242/.381/.485 with three doubles, one triple, one homer, seven RBI, six runs scored, one stolen base, eight walks, and eight strikeouts over nine games (42 plate appearances) to close out the minor-league season.

Fellow infielder Jeter Downs was once included in Baseball America’s top-100 rankings, but has since fallen off that list on account of a poor offensive season with Worcester in which he put up a subpar 62 wRC+ across 405 plate appearances.

Still just 23 years old, Downs did at least end his season on a high note by slashing .314/.359/.514 (130 wRC+) with two home runs and seven RBI over his final 10 games (39 plate appearances) of the year from Sept. 16-30.

Like Downs, Connor Wong came over to the Red Sox as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February 2020.

The 25-year-old backstop made his major-league debut for Boston in June of this season and was most-recently included in his first career postseason roster when the Sox defeated the Yankees in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game at Fenway Park.

Kole Cottam, meanwhile, split the season between High-A Greenville and Portland after earning a midseason promotion to the Double-A level towards the end of July.

In 25 games with the Sea Dogs, the 24-year-old hit an impressive .282/.337/.526 (131 wRC+) with five doubles, one triple, four home runs, nine runs driven in, 11 runs scored, three walks, and 33 strikeouts over the course of 86 total trips to the plate.

Regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in the organization, Cottam also threw out two of the 15 base runners who attempted to steal off him while with Portland.

As for the pitchers who will be joining these position players in Arizona, Brendan Cellucci — the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system, per BA — appeared in 36 games for Greenville this season.

The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 5.30 ERA across 37 1/3 innings pitched in those outings with the Drive, though he also put up a much more respectable 3.98 ERA and 3.97 xFIP.

Andrew Politi, on the other hand, struggled to the tune of a 6.36 ERA (and 4.50 xFIP) across 21 appearances — 15 of which were starts — and 75 innings of work, though he did not allow a run over his final four outings of the season from Sept. 10 on.

Connor Seabold, like Wong, made his big-league debut for the Sox earlier this season, while Josh Winckowski closed out his year with back-to-back strong performances for the WooSox.

All in all, the Red Sox will be represented by eight prospects in this year’s installment of the Arizona Fall League, which — as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — will be used by Major League Baseball to test out different rile changes, such as pitch timers, limiting the shift, larger bases and the automatic strike zone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Sox to promote top prospect Triston Casas, 2 others to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox are promoting top prospect Triston Casas to Triple-A Worcester for the final two weeks of the minor-league season, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Per Speier, right-handed pitching prospect Josh Wincowski and catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez will join Casas in Worcester, as all three had spent the entirety of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, whose season concluded on Sunday.

Casas, 21, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He was originally selected by the Sox with the 26th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.).

After participating at the club’s alternate training site and fall instructional league last year, Casas opened the 2021 season with Portland and held his own there.

In 77 games with the Sea Dogs, the left-handed hitting first baseman slashed .284/.395/.484 (142 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 52 RBI, 57 runs scored, six stolen bases, 49 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 329 trips to the plate.

Back in July, Casas temporarily left the Sea Dogs to play for Team USA in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where he helped the United States win a silver medal while being named the tournament’s best first baseman.

While with Portland, Casas — who does not turn 22 until January — was the second-youngest qualifying regular in the Double-A Northeast, per Speier. The 6-foot-4, 252 pounder will undoubtedly become one of the youngest players at the Triple-A level as well.

In addition to Casas, the WooSox will also be adding a pitcher in the form of Winckowski, who the Red Sox acquired from the Mets as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February.

The 23-year-old, in his debut season with a new organization, posted a 4.14 ERA and 4.02 FIP with 88 strikeouts to 30 walks over 21 appearances (20 starts) spanning exactly 100 innings of work for the Sea Dogs. He was named Portland’s Pitcher of the Year earlier this month for his efforts.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Winckowski — the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system — “has shown a potential starter’s mix, with a major league-quality fastball (usually 94-96 mph), a slider and a changeup that has the potential to emerge as a solid third pitch.”

Winckowski, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds, will once again be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter, so the Sox would need to add the righty to their 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline in order to protect him from that.

Finally, we arrive at Hernandez, who the Red Sox acquired from the Rays alongside infield prospect Nick Sogard in exchange for right-hander Chris Mazza, left-hander Jeffrey Springs, and cash considerations in mid-February.

Hernandez, who turns 24 in November, is already on Boston’s 40-man roster and is primarily viewed as the No. 2 catching prospect in the organization behind only Connor Wong.

With the Sea Dogs this season, the 23-year-old backstop out of Colombia batted an impressive .280/.319/.506 (121 wRC+) with 26 doubles, one triple, 16 home runs, 53 RBI, 44 runs scored, 11 walks, and 70 strikeouts over 92 games and 357 plate appearances. He also threw out 28% of the runners who attempted to steal against him.

Following Monday’s series of moves, the WooSox’ roster just got a bit more crowded for the final stretch of their season, which is slated to end on October 3.

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