Triston Casas has arrived, and he's likely here to stay

·4 min read

Sep. 4—The day fans have long awaited is finally here.

Triston Casas has arrived.

The top Red Sox prospect and former first-round draft pick made his highly anticipated big league debut on Sunday, going 1 for 4 batting sixth while making some great defensive plays at first base in Boston's 5-2 win against the Texas Rangers.

If Casas is the player the club believes he can be, the first base job could be his for a long, long time.

No matter how he plays in the coming days, Casas will likely serve as the club's everyday first baseman for the rest of the season and potentially beyond. Eric Hosmer, who attended the same Florida high school as Casas and is one of his biggest professional mentors, is dealing with a lingering back issue and may not play again this season. Bobby Dalbec, once himself a celebrated prospect, was sent down to Triple-A after three unsuccessful years as the club's starter and could soon be on his way out.

Thanks to new MLB rules that award draft picks to clubs who promote highly regarded prospects early and then see those players earn Rookie of the Year or finish high in the MVP or Cy Young Award voting, the Red Sox will have strong incentive to start Casas next season as the Opening Day first baseman too.

In the meantime, Alex Cora said he expects Casas will get a lot of playing time, including against left-handed pitchers, while Christian Arroyo shifts back into a utility role getting at bats elsewhere. Yet tempting as it is to hail Casas' arrival and scrutinize his every at bat, Cora had a pointed message to the fanbase.

Let him be.

"I know everybody is excited, for some reason here people talk about saviors, this guy is going to be second coming of whoever. No. We need him to be him," Cora said. "He will be a good big leaguer, a guy that's going to help us win ballgames, so take it easy on him."

As we've seen with other top prospects who have debuted recently, the jump from Triple-A to the majors isn't an easy one for even the best players to make. Dustin Pedroia famously struggled upon making his debut in September 2006 before breaking out as Rookie of the Year and World Series champion the following season, so Casas deserves patience too.

Whether he struggles initially or makes an immediate impact, there's plenty of reason for excitement surrounding the new Red Sox first baseman.

"He's the truth, man. He can hit," said Hosmer, who has followed Casas' journey from the beginning and now gets to play alongside him as teammates. "I've always said he's like a mix of Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman in how he hits. He's got a wide stance and the same setup to both guys, a little bit of a leg kick but it looks like both of those hitters blended together. Between that and his physical ability, his mindset, I think there are special things to come."

Standing at 6-foot-4, 252 pounds, the 22-year-old Casas is an imposing physical presence who boasts prodigious power, a great eye at the plate and the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. Over the past month he's dominated Triple-A, batting .330 with a 1.016 OPS since July 28, and his profile as a left-handed hitter should translate well to Fenway Park.

"I think it's going to fit right into my game," Casas said. "My pull side home runs go plenty far enough to go over the bullpen and I think my opposite field hits are going to go off the monster pretty frequently. I think it's going to play great into my swing, great into my game, I'm excited to get consistent at bats and see what kind of numbers I'm going to put up."

Casas also earned rave reviews during last summer's Tokyo Olympics, when he played a starring role and helped lead Team USA to a silver medal. That club was one of five he's now played for in the past year, a list that includes the Red Sox affiliated Portland Sea Dogs and Worcester Red Sox, the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League and now the Boston Red Sox themselves.

Yet however winding the journey has been, and even if the big promotion came later than many fans would have preferred, Casas and the Red Sox hope this stop will be the last one.

Email: mcerullo@northofboston.com. Twitter: @MacCerullo.