Triston Casas had a busy year in 2021, bouncing between Double-A, the Team USA Olympic squad and Triple-A. “I was bouncing all over the place,” Casas said to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. “I did my best to take it one day at a time and I’m happy with the way I handled it. But hopefully I’ll be a little more settled this year.” All of that bouncing around did nothing to slow Casas down, as the Red Sox first base prospect hit .279/.394/.484 for a wRC+ of 141 in 86 games, between Double-A and Triple-A. That showing has him on the cusp of making his major league debut, though he doesn’t yet have a spot on the roster. That means he’ll have the extra challenge of having to earn that roster spot before getting called up, but also comes with the positive of Casas not being locked out and thus eligible to participate in Spring Training. “I absolutely appreciate what they’re doing,” Casas said of the MLBPA’s efforts in the lockout. “I know they’re working diligently to make sure baseball is a fair game. I don’t know all the information, but they’re making a sacrifice to help younger players.” As for what comes next for the 22-year-old, “My goal is to make the major league team.” The Sox currently project to have Bobby Dalbec at first base and J.D. Martinez in the DH slot most of the time. However, Martinez is a free agent after 2022, meaning that, even if Casas struggles to force his way into the lineup this year, his chances of doing so will be much greater one year from now.
Elsewhere in the East…
- Though Shawn Armstrong is a minor league free agent, the rules specifying which players are locked out have kept the right-hander on the open market and unable to sign even a minor league deal, according to The Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. It’s a tough blow for the 31-year-old, especially since Armstrong said he heard from over 20 teams in November prior to the lockout, with the Rays (Armstrong’s former club) and roughly a dozen other teams offering minor league or split contracts. Armstrong opted to wait for a guaranteed offer, but now finds himself stuck waiting to determine the next step in his career. “I know, it’s going to be very, very quick when the lockout ends versus being able to talk and communicate and counteroffer and those types of things,” Armstrong said. “But it is what it is. Nothing I can do about it. Just got to stay ready.”
- Braves outfield prospect Michael Harris II had a solid year in 2021, playing 101 High-A games and hitting .294/.362/.436, wRC+ of 114. But he might just be scratching the surface of what he’s capable of, at least according to fellow Braves prospect Braden Shewmake. “I think (Harris) could help (the big club). I definitely do,” Shewmake tells Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When he gets his chance, I think he’s going to stick. I don’t think he’s going to be a guy that bounces back and forth.” Despite his promise, Harris is aware that he still has to make strides, telling Toscano that “There’s always somewhere to improve, so I don’t really focus on one specific area.” Harris doesn’t yet have a roster spot, meaning other outfielders like Drew Waters and Cristian Pache have a clearer path to playing time than he does. But unlike them, Harris has the advantage of not being locked out, and thus able to participate in team activities and access team facilities.