TODAY: Casas’ promotion was officially announced, with the Red Sox also calling up Josh Winckowski from Triple-A. Houck was indeed moved to the 60-day IL, Dalbec was optioned to Triple-A, and right-hander Kutter Crawford was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder impingement. Crawford was supposed to start today’s game against the Rangers but Sox manager Alex Cora said yesterday that the righty would be scratched. Winckowski will instead make today’s start.
SEPTEMBER 3: The Red Sox are going to add first base prospect Triston Casas to the team tomorrow, according to Chris Cotillo of MassLive. That report has been confirmed by Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe, who adds that Bobby Dalbec will be optioned to Triple-A Worcester. Casas is not currently on the club’s 40-man roster, meaning they will have to open a spot for him. However, it would likely come down to transferring someone to the 60-day IL, such as Tanner Houck, who was previously reported to be done for the season.
Casas, 22, was selected by Boston in the first round of the 208 draft, 26th overall. He got a brief showing in rookie ball that year and jumped to A-ball to start 2019. He hit 19 home runs for the Greenville Drive while slashing .254/.349/.472, producing a wRC+ of 136 and earning a brief promotion to High-A to finish the year.
After that strong showing in his first full season as a professional, he was ranked the #70 prospect in the sport by Baseball America. Of course, the minor league seasons were canceled that year by the pandemic, preventing Casas from playing organized ball that season. In 2021, he split his time between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting 14 homers and slashing .279/.394/.484. He walked in 15.4% of his plate appearances while striking out in just 19.1% of them, producing a wRC+ of 141.
After that excellent season, he jumped up to #19 on BA’s 2022 top prospects list and seemed a candidate to make his major league debut this season. The Red Sox stuck with Dalbec as their first baseman to start the year and Casas was taken off the table when he suffered an ankle injury in May, returning to Worcester at the end of July. In Triple-A this year, he’s hit .273/.382/.481 for a wRC+ of 127, walking in 14.5% of his trips to the plate while going down on strikes just 21.5% of the time. He’s currently ranked as the #28 prospect in the league by Baseball America, #14 by FanGraphs and #31 by Keith Law of The Athletic.
Fans of the Red Sox have been calling for this move for some time, not just because of the strong showing of Casas, but also the struggles of Dalbec. After hitting 25 home runs last year and slashing .240/.298/.494 for a wRC+ of 107, he’s slumped this year to a showing of .211/.282/.363. That production is 22% below league average, as evidenced by his 78 wRC+. Based on those disappointing results, he and Casas will switch places, with Dalbec going down to the minors to try to get back on track.
The Red Sox are seven games behind the Blue Jays for the final Wild Card spot in the American League with three teams in between, making it very difficult for them to make a serious playoff run over the final month of the season. Regardless, they will give Casas a look over the remainder of the campaign to see how he fares against big league pitching in the next few weeks and hopefully go into the winter with some momentum towards next season. Eric Hosmer was acquired from the Padres at the trade deadline but is currently on the IL. Assuming Casas shows well enough to earn himself regular playing time, the club will have to figure out how to balance having both on the team.
With only a few weeks to go until the offseason, it’s unlikely that Casas will reach 130 at-bats here in 2022, meaning he will hang onto his rookie/prospect status through the winter. That’s a potentially important note under the new collective bargaining agreement. Players with less than 60 days of service who appear among two preseason Top 100 lists at Baseball America, ESPN or MLB Pipeline can net their team a bonus amateur draft choice based on their early-career finishes in awards voting, so long as their club carries them on the MLB roster for a full service year. If Casas cracks next year’s Opening Day roster and sticks around all season, and he wins a Rookie of the Year or places highly in MVP balloting during his first couple seasons, the club could pick up an extra draft choice down the line.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.