SoxProspects News

May 13, 2020 at 6:30 AM

Scouting Report Updates: Casas, Flores, Netzer, Dearden, Baldwin, Nishioka


Our latest scouting report update is headlined by the system's headliner, the SoxProspects top prospect, Triston Casas. In 2019, Casas continued to deliver on the promise that made him a first-round pick in 2018, slashing .254/.349/.472 as a 19-year old in single-A.

SoxProspects.com scouting reports are written by our scouting report team, led by Director of Scouting Ian Cundall.

Triston Casas, First baseman

Physical Description: Strong, imposing frame. Thick, fully developed lower half. Some remaining projection in his upper body. Will have to work to maintain body and athleticism. Very long limbs.

Hit: Starts slightly open in a slight crouch. Quiet pre-pitch. Utilizes a leg lift timing device. Plus bat speed; whips the bat through the zone. Smooth, fluid swing, especially given his size. Strong feel for hit for a high school draftee. Utilizes all fields. Will always have some swing-and-miss and holes in his swing. Has shown willingness to try adjustments to swing and to abandon them if they are not working. Will widen his stance and choke up on the bat with two strikes. Needs to continue to refine approach and pitch recognition, but has the potential to develop an above-average hit tool.

Power: Plus-plus raw power. Easy all-fields power, but power plays best to the pull side. Has the ideal combination of size, strength, and bat speed for a power hitter. How power actualizes will depend on hit tool development, but can project for at least plus game power in his peak and potentially more.

Run: Well below-average speed. Not a part of his game. Will likely continue to get slower as he matures.

Field: Soft hands; confident picking out throws in the dirt. Moves well at first base. Potential above-average defender there. Drafted as a third baseman and had plenty of arm for the position, but footwork was choppy, lacked range, and looked awkward fielding the ball there given his size.

Arm: Plus arm. Touched the low 90s on the mound in high school.

Career Notes: Originally an old prospect for his draft class, reclassified in 2017 so that he could enter the draft a year earlier. Reportedly put up some of the highest exit velocities in the 2018 high school class. Excelled in showcase events and led Team USA in home runs and RBI on the way to winning the MVP of the U-18 Baseball World Cup. Attended the same high school as Red Sox draft picks CJ Chatham, Shaun Anderson, and Deven Marrero. Had committed to the University of Miami.  Injured his right thumb diving for a ground ball in his second game after signing, causing him to miss the rest of the 2018 regular season after UCL surgery. Tried to use a pronounced crouch in his pre-pitch setup and swing in Spring Training and first month of 2019, but struggled mightily (.208/.284/.364, 35% K rate). After returning to a more natural swing, he improved drastically, posting great numbers for his age even despite a July slump (.267/.364/.506, 21% K rate). Participated in the Fall Instructional League in 2018 and 2019.

Summation: Potential everyday regular. Ceiling of an all-star capable of hitting for both average and significant power. Looks the part of a prototypical bat-first first baseman capable of anchoring a lineup. Also projects to add value defensively at first base. Hit tool still needs development and will have to ensure the swing-and-miss in his game doesn’t impact his ability to tap into his power. Strong instincts and feel for the game.

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Antoni Flores, Second baseman/shortstop

Physical Description: Already physically developed for his age. Average athlete, needs to get stronger. Was noticeably thicker during the 2019 season to the point that it limited his mobility and quick-twitch athleticism. Will have to watch his body as he gets older to ensure he doesn’t lose any more athleticism.

Hit: Starts square and utilizes a leg kick. Loose at the plate. Will shorten up with two strikes. Good bat angle. Above-average bat speed. Bat will take some time to develop. Approach needs work. Needs to improve pitch recognition. Struggled against more advanced pitching in aggressive assignment to the New York-Penn League in 2019. Was unable to catch up to velocity, especially up in the zone, and was overly aggressive early in counts, leading to a lot of weak contact. Potential average hit tool.

Power: Will show average raw power in batting practice. Could take some time to translate into game action. Power is primarily to the pull side at present, but could develop all-fields power in the future.

Run: Below-average speed. Won't be a huge threat to steal bases, but could grab a few due to strong baserunning instincts. Speed grade dropped a half grade in 2019. Will need to put work into taking care of his body to prevent further decrease.

Field: Soft hands, fluid actions in the field. Strong instincts for his age. Reads the game well; rarely lets the ball play him. Plays the game with some flair in the field. Range decreased in 2019 as he lost some of his athleticism. Potential to develop into an above-average defender.

Arm: Plus arm strength. Capable of making all the throws necessary from the left side of the infield.

Career Notes: Had trouble staying healthy in 2018, missing six weeks with what the team called "general soreness" (but may have been a strained left shoulder) after being promoted stateside from the DSL, then pulling his hamstring in his second game after returning, leading to a second absence. A small minority of scouts considered him the system’s top prospect entering 2019, but he struggled in an aggressive assignment to Lowell. Appeared to be pressing later in the 2019 season, compounding initial struggles, and was replaced in the lineup by GCL call-ups during the Spinners’ playoff run. Participated in the Fall Instructional League in 2018, when he was one of the most impressive players in camp, and 2019.

Summation: Potential emergency up-and-down infielder. Ceiling of a second-division regular.  Wide gap between what he is now and what he could be in the future. Best present tool is his arm. Has a chance for three more average tools in hit, power, and defense if he reaches his potential. Strong instincts for his age have allowed tools to play up in the past, but tools played down as he struggled through a difficult 2019 season. Entered 2019 as one of the most intriguing prospects in the system, but his body regressed and he really struggled at the plate. Odds of reaching his ceiling are lower now, but it is still possible he could return to the form he showed in 2018 and quickly re-establish himself as one of the top 10-15 prospects in the system.

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Brett Netzer, Second baseman

Physical Description: Average frame, looks listed height and weight. Has some physical projection remaining, especially in his upper body. Will never be overly physical. Average athlete.

Hit:
Starts square and vertical with his hands high pre-pitch. Has tweaked swing mechanics to try and lift the ball more. Now utilizes a leg lift, but in the past had a toe tap timing device. Above-average bat speed. On the aggressive side, with swing-and-miss in his game. Tracks the ball well and has shown average pitch recognition. Has shown the makings of an all-fields approach. Has struggled against left-handers in the past, but had roughly equal splits in 2019. Will get shifted to pull. Potential fringe-average hit tool.

Power:
Fringe-average raw power. Not a major part of his game. Swing lacks loft, more designed for line drives in the gaps than over-the-fence power. Projects for below-average game power at best should mechanical changes take, but could contribute 20+ doubles a year.

Run:
Below-average speed. Will steal a handful of bases because of above-average instincts, but not a major part of his game.

Field:
Shows soft hands and fluid actions at second base. Average range, able to cover ground in both directions. Should be able to stick at second base long-term, where his defensive skills profile best on the infield. Potential average defender. Started seeing some time in the outfield in the 2019 Fall Instructional League.

Arm:
Average arm strength for second base or left field.

Career Notes:
Played left field as a freshman at UNC-Charlotte before moving to second base. Participated in the Fall Instructional League in 2018 and 2019.

Summation:
Projects as an emergency, up-and-down player limited to second base and left field. Ceiling of a bench bat, but inability to play left side of the infield limits his potential in that role. Bat will have to carry him, but lack of power means he will have to make a lot of contact. Lacks a true carrying tool, but potential for three average tools. Started playing outfield in 2019 in order to increase positional versatility. Has made adjustments to try to better tap into his power, but whether those take without impacting his hit tool remains to be seen.


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Tyler Dearden, Outfielder

Physical Description: Athletic, projectable frame. Skinny and lacks strength at present. Could stand to add 15-20 pounds as he physically matures.

Hit:
Starts square and vertical, hands high. Utilizes a big leg kick. Quick hands. Swing has length and loft. Gets hands into the zone quick, but bat drags some due to lack of strength. Rudimentary approach. Can get pull-happy at times. Lot of swing-and-miss at present. Struggles to recognize breaking balls. Will be tested at each level as he moves up. Needs to show he can make considerably more contact. Struggles against left-handed pitching. Potential below-average hit tool.

Power:
Will show average raw power in batting practice, primarily to the pull side. Has shown some in-game power as well to the pull side. Power development will depend on how he physically develops and how much contact he makes against more advanced pitching. Has shown significantly more power against right-handers than left-handers. Potential below-average in-game power.

Run:
Below-average speed. Not a major part of his game.

Field:
Work in progress. Needs to improve reads and routes. Not the most instinctive defender; first step needs work. Projects as a below-average defender.

Arm:
Below-average arm strength. Likely too light for right field.

Career Notes:
Had been committed to play at Penn State. Signed for slightly over slot. Has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career. 2018 season ended about three weeks early due to a back injury, and missed most of the first half of 2019. Participated in the Fall Instructional League in 2018 and 2019.

Summation:
Potential minor league depth player. Can dream on a bat-first, corner outfield profile, but has a lot of development to go, and there is wide gap between what he is now and what he could be in the future. Progress has been slow and impeded by injuries. Must develop physically. Will have to hit, as he doesn’t project to add much defensive value.


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Roldani Baldwin, Catcher

Physical Description: Athletic frame for a catcher. Thick lower half. Has filled out considerably since signing. On the shorter side; looks his listed height and weight.

Hit:
Starts square in a slight crouch. Quiet pre-pitch. Utilizes a leg lift timing device. Uppercut swing. Quick wrists; has some bat speed. Doesn’t get cheated. Makes hard contact when he gets the bat on the ball. Can drive a fastball, especially when it is elevated. Below-average plate discipline; lacks patience and will swing at some bad pitches, especially breaking balls in the dirt, which he seems to struggle to recognize. Aggressive approach that could be exposed against more advanced pitching. Potential below-average hit tool.

Power:
Above-average raw power. Heavy pull-side hitter. Swing has lift; can really drive the ball with backspin when he squares it up. How power actualizes will depend on hit tool development. Potential for fringe-average game power.

Run:
Decent speed for a catcher, but will not be part of his game.

Defense:
Still a very rough receiver. Has the tendency to stab at the ball and end up in poor position with his glove. Doesn’t manipulate his body well to block balls in the dirt and keep them at his feet. Potential below-average defensive profile.

Arm:
Average arm strength. Struggles with accuracy at times.

Career Notes:
Played more third base than catcher early in his career, but moved to catcher full-time in 2017. Has struggled with injuries throughout his career. Had three stints on the IL in 2016 and another four in 2018, including one for a concussion. In 2019, suffered a shin/ankle fracture in spring training, causing him to miss nearly the entire season save for a rehab assignment in the low minors very late in the year. Participated in the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018 Fall Instructional League. Received a somewhat surprising non-roster invitation to major league spring training in 2020.

Summation:
Projects as mid-minors organizational depth. Will struggle against more advanced pitching and doesn’t have the defensive ability to carry him if he does. Once an intriguing sleeper prospect behind the plate, loss of development time due to injuries has hampered his development significantly. Needs to make significant strides on defense, improve his patience at the plate, and show that he can make contact against advanced pitching in order to succeed in the high minors.

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Tanner Nishioka, Second baseman

Physical Description: Average frame, on the shorter side. No physical projection.

Hit:
Starts with a vertical, open stance. Utilizes a big leg lift timing device. Lot of pre-pitch movement. Lots of effort in swing. Quick hands, average bat speed.

Power:
Well-below average power potential. Will run into one on occasion, but swing is primarily designed for line drives from gap to gap.

Run:
Below-average speed. Above-average instincts, but not a threat to steal.

Field:
Has played second base, third base and left field, mostly moving around in deference to other players. Profiles best at second base or in left field. Has really struggled at third base during his time there. Not a reliable defender. Played a significant amount of DH in 2019, although not clear if that was primarily due to defensive limitations or injuries. Below-average defensive profile.

Arm:
Below-average arm strength.

Career Notes:
Led Division III in home runs as a senior at Pomona College. Reportedly had been recruited by Notre Dame and Harvard, but chose Pomona for its pre-med program. Majored in neuroscience and had planned to apply to medical school until playing professionally became a possibility.

Summation:
Profiles as an organizational utility player. Has no stand-out tools, but can hit a little bit and play passable enough defense to stick around in an organization for a while. Fundamentally sound player with an advanced baseball IQ. Type of player the organization has felt comfortable moving to higher levels temporarily when injuries hit. Had a very good season offensively in 2018, but was old for the level and is unlikely to repeat that success at higher levels.

Photo Credit: Triston Casas and Antoni Flores by Kelly O'Connor
 
Mark Hanoian is the Scouting Report Manager for SoxProspects.com.

 
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