Is the Red Sox Triston Casas 'The Bomb' -- or a bomb?
By Rick McNair
In 2021 The Red Sox Triston Casas was the team's No. 1 ranked prospect. In 2022 Casas became the number two prospect for the former first-round pick. Casas's calling card is power, noted in scouting reports that pepper baseball sites from Prospect Watch to Baseball America.
"While Casas' combination of bat speed, strength and leverage in his massive 6-foot-4 frame give him plus-plus raw power to all parts of the park, he resists the temptation to sell out for power. He controls the strike zone extremely well, focuses on making hard contact to all fields with a sound if naturally long, left-handed swing and shows the aptitude to make adjustments at the plate. He made progress last season with his ability to work counts and launch balls in the air to his pull side, and he could become a 35-40 homer threat if he continues to do so." - MLB Prospect Watch
Casas's climb up the organizational ladder has not been without a few pratfalls, especially in the injury department. The last noteworthy one happened in the Dominican League last season, and last season it was 10 weeks of downtime while Casas was with the WooSox. Fortunately, the Dominican issue was less severe than first viewed. Rumblings of Casas being fragile became a topic with social media denizens. His work ethic is noteworthy, and Casas has a reputation for a studious workout regimen, which is a plus.
Casas has the bona fides, including making a positive impression in international competition. If it is the size that impresses, then Casas has that, and it is not Pablo Sandoval-type size but muscle. Going back into my memory folder Casas physically reminds me of Ted Kluszewski: big, lumbering, but with towering home runs and a legitimate recognition of the strike zone.
When will Casas put it together? Is he on the same path as Lars Anderson, who never got untracked or Dustin Pedroia, who did get untracked? Prospect evaluations are like a subpoena -- sometimes worthless and sometimes a treasure trove. So far, management is going long -- to interject a stock market term -- on Casas.
Sox manager Alex Cora has diligently placed Casas into positions where his chance of success, but looking at the latest splits (5/12), Casas has proven equally vulnerable against left or right-hand pitching (.180/.182). The average becomes a focal point for negative discussions on Casas.
Triston Casas will be the Red Sox future at first base
In 2022 Casas debuted as the season immolated, and despite not touching the Mendoza Line, the then 22-year-old posted a 120 wRC+. Casas has slowly risen this season, with his batting average now at .180 and an 89 wRC+. Has the corner been turned?
With Casas, the good news is balanced by the bad news. The bad news is 26.0 K%, and the good news is two-fold: A 17.1 BB% and a .317 OBP. The Red Sox projected Casas as a decent replacement for Kyle Schwarber, whose plate presence often has him hitting leadoff. Casas, like Schwarber, has a tight strike zone -- too tight, some would interject.
Is Casas a bomb?
You can examine BABIP, contact metrics, and batting average, deep dive into the minutia of advanced metrics and traditional statistics, and cherry-pick needs improvement areas. Defensively Casas is no Vic Power or Doug Mientkiewicz around the sack with a -4 on Defensive Runs Saved, and the UZR/150 is a flatline. So what? Casas is the personification of management patience. Stay the course since Casas is just too good to fail.
Casas is The Bomb
Casas is the bomb, witnessed in some of his thundering home runs. When Casas hits them, there is little doubt, and he enjoys the moment with the slowest HR trot on the team. I had mentioned Big Klu earlier, and he had one very noticeable career statistic: A four-year mid-career run where he slammed 171 home runs and whiffed only 140 times. Casas will not attain that or any other basher with the current free-swinging philosophy.
That means I migrate into Money Ball mode and OBP, a Casas specialty. His ability to attain walks is not out of fear from the hurlers, as Casas has yet to establish himself as a Joey Gallo clone that instills fear in pitchers. Casas is still a work in progress, but the day will come when the batting average is no longer an embarrassment. Yes -- pure provincialism on my part, but Casas has the natural pitch recognition ability to build upon.
The Red Sox's offensive performance at first base is awful, and Casas is a big part, and the team has success without the corner power expected of the rookie. Casas will not be Big Klu with his BB/K ratio, but 40+ bomb potential exists. The process may be painful as the season moves forward, but Casas is the future at first base, and it will be a bright future.