Earlier tonight, the Red Sox made their first pick of this year’s draft by selecting Triston Casas, a high school first baseman. It was a bit of a surprise as the Red Sox don’t generally pick first basemen this early — as Sox Prospects’ Ian Cundall notes, this is the first time they’ve taken a first baseman with one of their first five picks since 2014 — but they clearly believe in the bat. Given how poor the farm system looks right now, Casas is immediately going to jump into a prominent spot in the organizational rankings when he signs (assuming he signs). Let’s get to know the prospect a little more.
Let’s start with the basics. Casas was born on January 15, 2000, and I am only including this so we can all turn to dust at the same time as the Red Sox draft a player born in the year 2000. I’m so washed. Anyway, yeah, he’s 18 years old. The youngster is from Florida and went to American Heritage High School in Plantation Florida. Notable alumni from the school (according to Wikipedia, which never lies) are Patriots 2018 first round pick Sony Michel and Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. He is committed to play at the University of Miami next season if he does not sign. It doesn’t sound like signability will be an issue.
Casas, a left-handed hitter, played for the U.S. U-18 team and was named the World Baseball Softball Confederation player of the year in 2017. I have never heard of this, but it sure sounds impressive. He was also named the MVP of the 2017 U-18 World Cup after leading the U.S. to gold. That sounds pretty good too! As I mentioned in the original post, he is ranked 25th in the draft class by Baseball America, 20th by MLB Pipeline and 33rd by Fangraphs.
Casas isn’t really a one-dimensional player, but there is one tool that clearly stands out above the others and that’s his power. This is an area in which the Red Sox have not been developing a ton of talent, so it’s not a major surprise to see them target a big bat like this. Obviously, the scouting reports vary but some put his raw power as high as a 70-grade tool, which would make it elite. There are some issues that could prevent him from reaching this potential, of course, and we’ll get to that in a minute. Still, given the top first base prospects from recent year — Sam Travis and Josh Ockimey — it’s kind of exciting to have one with legitimate power potential.
The power is what is going to get the headlines for Casas, and it should. It’s not the only thing he has going for him, though. The young hitter has also proven to have a strong approach at the plate and patience on which he should be able to lean as he makes his way through the minors. In fact, Fangraphs says in their scouting report that his extreme patience made it difficult for some scouts to get a good read on the young man’s offensive skills.
So, I mentioned some issues that could keep Casas from reaching his potential with the power, and as is generally the case for players like this it comes down to the hit tool. Having huge raw power is great, but it doesn’t really do much if you can’t make contact. To be honest, it seems that the hit tool for Casas is less straight-up bad than it is unknown. There are some who see an average, or even slightly above-average, hit tool in Casas’ future. However, others see his big uppercut swing and think he sells out a bit too much for power and professional pitchers will be able to take advantage of some holes in the swing. The good news here is that the Red Sox have had success developing position players in recent years, so there’s reason to believe in their views on a player this talented.
There’s also the matter of defense, as Casas is generally seen as a first base only prospect. However, it’s worth noting that the Red Sox announced him as a third baseman, where he has spent some time as an amateur. It seems they are going to give him a chance to stick there, and he may have a better shot than some indicate. He has a huge arm — he was also a pitcher in high school — to help him there, but he’ll have to stay agile if he’s going to stay on that side of the diamond. It’s not impossible he sticks there, but the expectation should still be that he’ll eventually move across the diamond, which puts even more pressure on that hit tool developing.
Via Baseball America