Welcome to a new feature here at Over The Monster in which we will be looking at the best players on the farm from the past week. With the new minor-league schedule being implemented this year that has teams playing six-game series every week with Mondays off, there are no Minor Lines on Tuesdays. We figured rather than just leaving that timeslot blank every week, we’d hand out some fake, virtual hardware. Each week, we’ll pick players of the week for both position players and pitchers, as well as an honorable mention in each category. (See Previous Winners Here)
Position Player of the Week
Triston Casas, Portland
Some weeks it’s a challenge to figure out who to highlight in this spot, as the group of players is large enough, and the sample small enough, that there are bound to be a few performances in close standing from which to choose. This was not one of those weeks. Triston Casas was on another plane this past week, hitting .450/.560/1.250 in a performance that also included five home runs. To add a little extra intrigue to the week, all five of those homers came in a three-game stretch, which itself came in a two-day stretch.
The first baseman for Portland came into the season as the top prospect in the organization, and while some may have new draftee Marcelo Mayer over him by next spring I suspect most will stick with Casas. It hasn’t been the kind of dominant season at Double-A that some of us had hoped for from the first base prospect, but it’s worth noting he’s had a bit of a strange schedule with a couple of stints away from the organization playing with Team USA. And even amid all that, after this big week he’s hitting .283/.387/.482, not to mention him being arguably the best player in Tokyo for Team USA. While the power hadn’t been all that consistent, this past week notwithstanding, the plate discipline has been tremendous.
And so now it’s just a countdown to when he gets to the majors. I’m not expecting him to start next season in the majors at this point, though it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. More likely is he’ll get some time in the minors, potentially even just for service time issues (though hopefully that is a thing that disappears in the next CBA). In the more short-term future, I do wonder if Casas might get a taste of Triple-A to close out this season. Their schedule goes a bit longer, and after all the travel the Red Sox may not want to push him that long. That said, it’s only a couple extra weeks, and if he sticks with Portland Casas is going to have extended time off with the Sea Dogs off until Thursday due to COVID issues with their opponent. At the very least, it’s something to monitor.
Honorable Mention: Franchy Cordero, Worcester
Cordero is actually up in the majors for the time being as the Red Sox are grabbing all necessary Triple-A depth amid their COVID outbreak. But he was also red-hot before the call-up, hitting .500/.565/.850 over the last week in five games played. Of course, this isn’t the first we’ve seen of Cordero mashing at Triple-A, but we’ve seen with him and others the jump from the minors to the majors is as large as it’s ever been. I’m naturally skeptical of anyone with Cordero’s all-or-nothing skillset at the plate, and I’ll need to see some fraction of this performance carry over to the majors over a decent sample before I buy in at this point.
Pitcher of the Week
Jay Groome, Portland
Casas going absolutely ballistic for the Sea Dogs overshadowed the performance from new teammate Groome, who is still one of the biggest names in the system. Your mileage may vary on how much you will buy into his prospect stock given the injuries over his career, but the upside is still largely there. And we saw it on full display this past week in his first start up at Double-A. The southpaw was absolutely electric in his lone outing of the week, tossing six shutout innings in which he allowed just two hits without issuing a walk and striking out 10. It was probably the best outing we’ve seen from Groome in his entire professional career.
As I said, this was the first start of the season for the lefty at Double-A, as he had spent the rest of his season prior to this start at High-A. The hope coming into the year was probably that Groome would push his way up to Double-A sooner than this considering he’s already on the 40-man roster, but there was also little reason to rush him. He hadn’t pitched anything all that close to a full season before this season, so it was mostly about getting him consistent work every five days while hopefully settling into a rhythm. While with Greenville, Groome pitched to a 5.29 ERA, but did so with 108 strikeouts and 32 walks over 81 1⁄3 innings. The command needs to be sharpened up, but that’s not a surprise for someone with his lack of experience.
And so despite having been selected back in the 2017 draft, and having burned an option this season, Groome is still largely an unknown. He probably doesn’t have the ace upside some saw coming out of the draft, but if it all comes together he should still be able to perform as a good mid-rotation starter, with a back-end arm or a good reliever being a real possibility as well. That said, durability is still a concern going forward. 2022 will be the put up or shut up year for the lefty, who should be at least knocking on the door by the time that season closes.
Honorable Mention: Shane Drohan, Salem
Like Groome, Drohan has been pretty up and down this year, albeit without the same expectations. A fifth round pick in 2020, he was a bit more raw than most college pitchers but had intriguing talent. And we’ve seen flashes, including with this past week when he went five innings while allowing just a run on four hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. He’s going to be a really interesting guy to watch next season and could be one of the better deep sleepers in the system.