Round one is in the books. With our first go at voting in our community prospect ranking series, it was extremely close at the top. In fact, it was as close as it can get since the top two names tied. In the end, I had to go to the consensus rankings to break the tie, which gave us a new name at the top of our list after coming in at number two a year ago. That would be Triston Casas, who tops our list as the 2021 number one prospect in the organization, receiving 39 percent of the vote.
Casas was, to this point at least, the prize draft pick of the Dave Dombrowski era here in Boston. The Red Sox selected Casas back in 2018 with their first pick in that draft, coming in at number 26 overall. At the time he was selected out of Heritage High School in Florida, the big first baseman was announced as a third baseman, though even at that point it was clear to most everyone a move across the diamond was coming sooner than later. Casas was drafted for the bat, though, and specifically the power. Coming in at number 26 in the class per Baseball America and 33 per FanGraphs, scouts were mixed as to how his hit tool would play as a professional, but most everyone agreed the power would be there.
In that first summer after being drafted, Casas didn’t really get a chance to show off his stuff, playing in only two games for the GCL before injuring his thumb diving for a ball at third base in his second game. The good news was there was no expectation it would affect his first offseason as a pro, but he did have to sit out almost all of that initial summer.
And so, because of the missed time, Casas was still a bit of a mystery heading into the 2019 season, his first full year as a pro. And despite missing that time, and despite being a high school draftee entering his age-19 season, the Red Sox felt confident enough to put him in full-season ball to start that season. He did not let them down. The now-21-year-old (his birthday was last week) spent most of that season at Greenville, hitting .254/.349/.472 at the level before being promoted to High-A Salem for a cup of coffee at the end of that season.
Casas showed very little in the way of trouble handling the best pitching he had seen in his life to that point, leading to a ton of excitement in the run up to the 2020 season. At this time last year, he was the consensus top prospect in the system until Jeter Downs (with whom Casas tied in this round of voting) was acquired in the Mookie Betts deal. Whether he was one or two, we wanted to see him. Of course, the world had other plans and there was no minor-league season, but Casas did get an invite to the Alternate Site for the latter part of camp. Despite his relative lack of experience as a professional, he impressed everyone with his bat and his general approach, just lending more hype to the big bat.
The scouting reports have only gotten better as his career has progressed. As I mentioned towards the top, Casas was seen as a power bat when he was drafted with some hit tool questions. Those questions still exist, as they exist for most every prospect who has not yet played at Double-A, but the worry is much more muted than it was. There is still some swing and miss to be sure, but not to an extreme, Bobby Dalbec-type extent. And to go with the mild swing and miss, Casas has a terrific approach, which has arguably overtaken his power potential as his best quality. That said, the power is still there and very real, which makes sense if you see Casas. He is a monster of a man, standing at a listed (per Sox Prospects) 6’5”, 250 pounds.
On the other side of the ball, Casas is indeed first base-only, but he projects to be above-average there. This is just a personal opinion, but while first base defense certainly isn’t as valuable as glovework up the middle, I have long felt the baseball world in general tends to underrate strong defense at the cold corner.
As we look ahead to the 2021 campaign, Casas is among the most interesting prospects to track, and not just because he’s so damn good. It will be interesting to see where they place any and all of their prospects, but for someone like Casas who has mostly only played as high as A-Ball but also impressed everyone at the Alternate Site, it’s even more intriguing. Sox Prospects projects him to start at Double-A, which sounds right to me. And as Keaton mentioned over the weekend, when a prospect starts at Double-A that opens the door for a major-league debut that season if all goes well. I probably wouldn’t bet on that scenario, but he’s close, and as a Portland native I’m really hoping people are allowed in the park at some point this summer so I can see him in my backyard.
Here is our list so far:
- Triston Casas
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number two prospect. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. We encourage discussion, of course, but please don’t comment under specific players’ names. Instead, scroll to the bottom to start a new comment thread in order to keep the players at the top of the comment section. Until next time...