A few weeks ago, the notion of 1B/3B Triston Casas as a major leaguer would have been somewhat laughable. He’s a top prospect and is on an upward trajectory to the big leagues, but still hasn’t risen above AA yet and only has 46 games at that level. Then came the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and he was able to perform on a larger platform against solid competition. The 6’4″ 252Lb left-handed bat appeared in three games so far for team USA and has batted .308 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs out of the cleanup spot.
The 21-year old, #1 prospect in the Red Sox system has now pushed his way into the conversation around the gap in talent at 1B in the big leagues. The Red Sox traded for OF Kyle Schwarber and leadership has made it clear they want to try him at first base once he is healthy, but they could also use depth in the OF if Jarren Duran continues to struggle mightily at the plate. Could the solution actually be to give Casas a look in the majors at 1B and then use Schwarber at DH and in the OF? Is there really any harm in giving him a look over the next 2-3 weeks?
Casas was drafted out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, FL as the 26th pick in the first round in the 2018 MLB Draft. He is attempting to follow in the footsteps of another notable American Heritage alum, 1B Eric Hosmer. Casas has continued to rise up prospect lists and in his first full year in the system in 2019, spent the majority of the year in Greenville and hit .256 with 20 HRs and 81 RBIs in 120 games (500 PAs). After a lost year for the minors in 2020, this year in AA Portland, Casas has just 6 HRs in 46 games (195 PAs), but has worked to improve his average to .271. As we have seen in Tokyo, the power is certainly still there, but it appears he is working to have a higher average to pair with his power stroke.
Potential everyday regular. Ceiling of an all-star capable of hitting for both average and significant power. Looks the part of a prototypical bat-first first baseman capable of anchoring a lineup. Projects to add some value defensively at first base. Hit tool still needs development and will have to ensure the swing-and-miss in his game does not impact his ability to tap into his power. Strong instincts and feel for the game.Triston Casas, SoxProspects.com
Many prospect analysts, like the above quoted SoxProspects.com, see Casas as an everyday first baseman with a chance to anchor a lineup and maybe even rise to all-star level. That’s not small praise and is a strong indicator of how he is viewed. While he could use more development time, he seems to be ready and potentially able to make a difference at a position of dire need for the Red Sox right now and can continue to develop in the big leagues. Defensively, he will be beyond Schwarber’s ability day one and is frankly probably better than Bobby Dalbec is playing at the moment. SoxProspects.com described Casas defensively as “Confident picking out throws in the dirt. Moves well enough for first base. Potential above-average defender there.” While not glowing, that sounds pretty good to me right now.
Usually I’m a fan of having players develop in the minors for longer until they are ready, like I was with Duran, but it seems like the cards are aligning for Casas. His performance on the Olympic stage really impressed me and showed, at least to a small degree, that he can handle being placed in pressure situations. Peter Abraham (@PeteAbe) on Twitter reported in early July that veteran manager and Team USA skipper Mike Scioscia “was very impressed with how Triston Casas made game-to-game adjustments at the plate… especially for a 21-year-old.”
Now might be the time to take a look at Casas at 1B in the majors. If he really is that mature and able to handle pressure, the worst case scenario is a trip back to AA. The best case scenario: the beginning of a long and productive Red Sox career.