Minor League Baseball’s return undoubtedly will fuel hope and hype for the future.
Plenty of each surrounds the Boston Red Sox’s Jeter Downs and Triston Casas, whom ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel included Thursday on his list of the top 100 MLB prospects ahead of the 2021 season.
The COVID-19 pandemic sunk the 2020 minor league season, so Downs and Casas had to continue their development at the Red Sox’s alternate training site. With a full campaign on the horizon, McDaniel predicts big things for the two Boston farmhands.
McDaniel ranked Downs at No. 42 and reckons the middle infielder should reach the big leagues later this year.
” … Downs should join (Alex) Verdugo as long-term everyday players in the Red Sox lineup,” McDaniel wrote. “He’s fine at shortstop, but most MLB teams will be able to find better, so he’ll likely fit at second base long term, with fringy speed and an average arm. The calling card here is his above-average contact ability along with the progress he had made with the Dodgers just before the trade in tapping into his solid-average (20ish homers annually) raw power. His low-end outcome is a fringe regular, say something like Starlin Castro, and a better-than-expected outcome would be something like Gleyber Torres, where both the in-game power and defensive ability both beat expectations. He’ll probably spend some time in the upper minors in 2021 but could debut as soon as later this season.”
McDaniel pegged Casas at No. 52 and believes the 2018 first-round draft pick has enough power to forge an impressive career.
” … As the draft approached, Casas looked more like a first base-only prospect, but just kept hitting in games, showing a swing you could project to continue, and flashing plus-plus raw power with exit velos to match,” McDaniel wrote. “The Red Sox took him 26th overall, and his stock continued to rise with a strong age-19 performance at low-A. He also continued to make progress in 2020 at the alternate site, showing up in great shape and performing well against older and more advanced competition.
“Drafting a prep first baseman in the first round seems like a bad idea, but Casas checked the boxes you need ? a track record of hitting, a swing for all fields, a strong approach, and in-game evidence of big raw power. He’ll have to keep doing it, but he’s staying on schedule to be an above-average regular, with some shot for perennial All-Star.”
The Red Sox continued to replenish their farm system Wednesday night when they acquired five players in exchange for Andrew Benintendi.