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 Could Play Games at Empty Fenway Park This Summer, per Boston Mayor Marty Walsh

Boston mayor Marty Walsh is open to the idea of the Red Sox playing games at Fenway Park this summer under two conditions: no fans would be allowed in the stands and the City of Boston would have have to sign off on “advanced health and safety protocols that protect not only the athletes, but also everyone else reporting to the workplace,” per The Boston Globe’s Michael Silverman.

Speaking with Silverman in an over-the-phone interview earlier Friday, Walsh emphasized the safety of all parties involved in this challenging process.

“Yes, as long as the players and the teams and the support staff and all the people that are associated with it are safe and feel comfortable,” he said, “Obviously, their health is important to me as well, many of them are constituents of mine and even if they’re not constituents of mine, I obviously want people to be healthy and safe. That’s going to be the biggest challenge that they’re going to have to figure out and meet if they’re going to move forward here.”

Walsh mentioned how he had recently spoken with Red Sox team president and CEO Sam Kennedy. The two talked about MLB’s plan to get baseball back this year, although no specific dates to get the sport back have been set to this point in time.

Still, the league and its players association are hashing out negotiations about a potential return to baseball in 2020, and if an agreement is reached sooner rather than later, the City of Boston would have to ensure that MLB’s COVID-19 protocols meet its own.

“We want to see the plan,” Walsh said. “We’ll have our public health experts take a look at it and make sure that they feel like everything is covered that needs to be covered moving forward here…They’re personal teams and they have employees, and we want to make sure the teams and the employees are taking care of everything and looking through it all so that we can make sure if it does open it’s open in a safe way and the virus doesn’t spread.”

This applies to the Bruins and Celtics, whose respective seasons were abruptly suspended in March, as well.

Opening Fenway Park and the TD Garden back up to its tenants does not involve letting fans back in anytime soon, however. This is mainly due to the fact that we are still pretty far away from getting a vaccine.

Despite how unfortunate that may sound for fans across the city, Walsh is still looking forward to the return of professional sports. whenever that may be.

“I think if baseball could come back like we’re seeing in Taiwan and South Korea, I think that’s good for people to have a distraction,” Walsh said. “I think sports is one aspect of that. People have different reasons for distraction and sports is one, and I think it would help a lot of people’s psyches as far as having baseball and sports back.”

To get sports back at all though, one would assume that the City of Boston would have to open back up first. And until more information is gathered on the ever-changing coronavirus, that still might not be for quite some time.