Just how long do the Boston Red Sox go with potential? As former football coach Darrell Royal once eloquently stated: "Potential means you ain't done nothin' yet."
The target today, or at least one target, is rookie Triston Casas. Casas rambled through the farm system and in international play with well-deserved platitudes. A brief 2022 season showed glimpses of the potential power and his most notable hitting talent of maturity beyond his years in plate discipline.
So far, Coach Royal is correct with Casas. Casas hit .197 in 2022, and even the fabled Mendoza Line may be difficult to achieve this season. Casas' hitting lethargy has resulted in some appropriate and selective downtime by manager Alex Cora. Is Casas to be the left-handed version of Bobby Dalbec? Will he flame out like Lars Anderson?
We have seen a failure of high-profile prospects just as recently as last season. Jeter Downs was a top 100 prospect, and the Red Sox contemplated an infie lockdown from the former Dodger, and they got .154.
The combination of speed and power is difficult to give up on, and the Red Sox, San Diego, and Kansas City did with Franchy Cordero. Cordero has resurfaced with the Yankees, but I fully expect history to repeat itself. The Red Sox have long been mesmerized by power potential only to find it an illusion. Think Wily Mo Pena.
In 2006 a pudgy and diminutive infielder made his late-season MLB impact by hitting just .191. Dustin Pedroia became a workout fanatic in the offseason, which sarcastically showed when he hit just .182 in April. The comment from the negative branch of RSN was PedroiAAA. Terry Francona stuck with the kid, and he became Rookie of The Year.
Red Sox present and future may hinge on Tristan Casas and Brayan Bello and a supporting cast of players with "potential."
Will Casas follow Pedroia's track? If the team continues to be stuck in the proverbial mud, that will loosen up playing time and create a sink-or-swim. One must also believe Casas is not psychologically devastated by his early doldrums.
The next part is Brayan Bello. He had a rough introduction to MLB and hitters pasted him. Pitchers make adjustments, and Bello made a recovery in 2022; the potential was obvious. Bello's first start in 2023 was eerily reminiscent of 2022.
In 1984 the Red Sox debut of Roger Clemens took place. Clemens was not remarkable (9-4, 4.32), and 1985 showed a step in the right direction (7-5, 3.29) despite injury downtime. The rest is obvious.
Conversely, the Red Sox have seen a series of No. 1 pick lefties falter. Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Jay Groome. Owens and Johnson had moments in their Boston stays where the talent briefly surfaced before they returned to a pattern of failure.
Bello will not replicate the three, and Bello is the real deal and does not linger on the failure of one start or even a few. Waiting in Worcester is a pitcher I saw debut with the WooSox in 2022 - Bryan Mata. Mata is still in the finishing stages and could join Bello as an effective tandem.
Casas, Bello, Mata, and even Tanner Houck, Josh Winckowski, and Kutter Crawford are all in the potential category and various stages of proving Coach Royal correct or incorrect. For RSN, much of the team's future will be attached to farm system success, especially the young arms. Now comes the just how far do you go?