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Triston Casas: Red Sox 2019 Minor League Player Of The Year

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As a player entering his first full pro season, 19-year-old first baseman Triston Casas understood the magnitude of the adjustment that awaited him, and that he would be challenged in ways that he’d never experienced in high school in South Florida.

Even so, neither he nor the Red Sox could afford to be cavalier after he struggled in April, hitting .208/.284/.364 with 35.2 percent strikeouts.

Casas, the 26th overall pick in 2018, had employed a pronounced crouch in spring training and at the start of the season. The Red Sox encouraged the lefthanded hitter to stand more upright, putting him in a more athletic and comfortable position to get the bat to the ball and use his massive frame—he is listed at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds—to generate all-fields power.

The adjustment unlocked a standout performer at low Class A Greenville. Casas hit .264/.365/.492 with 16 homers in 93 games starting on May 1. Impressively, he trimmed his strikeout rate to 21 percent over the stretch.

Despite a July dip that coincided with a shoulder injury, Casas entered the final days of the season ranked near the top of the leaderboard among all 2018 high school draftees in homers (18, second) and OPS (.818, third).

Between those offensive numbers, his strong defensive performance at first base, and the maturity he showed to make adjustments against older competition in his first full season, Casas delivered the most impressive season in the system in 2019.

"He’s a guy who wants to be good, works to be good, and also possesses power to all fields and the ability to shorten up and get a hit,” hitting coordinator Greg Norton said. "He is super advanced for a kid his age as far as his work ethic, his preparation thoughts, looking to see what guys are doing, and how he goes about his ABs.”

SOX YARNS

— Other top performers in the farm system include outfielder Jarren Duran, who hit .305/.372/.410 with 43 steals at high Class A Salem and Double-A Portland, while righthander Bryan Mata went 6-7, 3.67 with 9.4 strikeouts and 3.4 walks per nine innings at the same two affiliates. Righthander Thad Ward dominated two Class A levels, going 8-5, 2.15 with 11.2 strikeouts and 4.1 walks per nine.

— Lefthander Jay Groome threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts on Aug. 21, his first outing since having Tommy John surgery in May 2018. The Red Sox are hopeful that the 21-year-old will make three to four Rookie-level Gulf Coast League starts and then pitch in instructional league.

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