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SoxProspects News

May 18, 2021 at 9:00 AM

Minor Notes: Polar Park opens; Casas and Duran heat up

Here are Tuesday's minor league notes: 

  • Worcester's Polar Park officially opened on May 11, with the WooSox putting on a show for the home crowd. The team hit four home runs, two of which came from Jarren Duran (pictured), and cruised to an 8-5 win over the Syracuse Mets. Another highlight in the game was Brandon Workman making his return to the Red Sox organization after inking a minor league deal on May 6. 
  • For more on Opening Day in Worcester, Sam Dykstra of MLB.com provided an in-depth look at the day from beginning to end
  • Opening Day at Haley Toyota Field in Salem was also covered by Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times. McFarling interviewed several fans at the game who had waited 614 days to get back in their seats.
  • It is no secret that offense is down across all levels of baseball right now, with strikeout rates upwards of 25% across all levels of the minors and pushing 30% in both Low-A and High-A. Julian McWilliams of The Boston Globe wrote about how the dominance of pitching is altering how the Red Sox assess and develop their young hitters. 
  • After being bit by the injury bug the last couple of weeks, the Red Sox system made some progress in getting players back on track. Both Kiké Hernández and Danny Santana appear to be fully healthy, with Hernández slugging two home runs on Sunday while Santana was officially activated off the injured list. Hernández is set to rejoin the Red Sox this week, with Jonathan Araúz going back down to Worcester as the countermove. 
  • Still on Worcester's roster, a decision is looming on Santana as his opt-out date is reportedly in the coming days. Santana has played five different positions in his six minor league games this year, so it certainly looks like the Red Sox are prepping him for a utility role. In those six games he has hit .364/.423/.682. Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reported that Santana could be recalled from Triple-A later in the week.
  • Also on the injury front, neither Tanner Houck or Connor Seabold have started throwing yet, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora said that Houck feels "quote-unquote normal." Meanwhile Christian Arroyo is still feeling the effects of his left hand contusion and is not ready to start a rehab assignment quite yet. 
  • On May 12 the Red Sox announced the release of  Erick Flores, Luis Mota, Wilmer Perez, Andy Pena, Claudio Ochoa, Jose Navas, Johan Martinez, Jesus Maita, and Nelfy Abreu. All of these players were in the Dominican Summer League in 2019 and never appeared in a game stateside. 
  • Greenville activated Brendan Cellucci from the IL and assigned Brendan Nail to Salem
  • The WooSox lost Chad De La Guerra to a hamstring strain and added Jack Lopez from Portland.

Players of the Week 5/11-5/16

Kyle Hart, LHP, Worcester Red Sox 
1 G, 0-0, 6 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 4 BB, 6 K 

Hart picked up his fifth SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Week award with six hitless innings on May 14. It was a great bounce-back start for Hart after he allowed four runs in his first start of the season. The 28-year-old struggled in his cup of coffee with Boston last season and was outrighted to Triple-A in November of 2020, but he has consistently had good results in the upper minors. The lanky left-hander will look to continue that trend this year as a mainstay in the Worcester rotation. 

Triston Casas, 1B, Portland Sea Dogs
6 G, 26 AB, 12 H, 3 HR, 6 R, 10 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, .462/.481/.846

The system's top prospect did not disappoint in his second week of action, launching three home runs and driving in 10 runs in Portland's six-game series in Hartford. On the season he is now hitting .341/.383/.568, though his 12 strikeouts in 44 at-bats signals that his batting average is due to come down some over time. The 21-year-old will continue to refine his approach and pitch recognition against Double-A pitching, but if he continues at this pace he could be pushing for a promotion to Triple-A by the summer. Looking back to Rafael Devers in 2017, his age-20 season, he hit .300/.369/.575 in 77 games with Portland before he was promoted to Triple-A. That would be a best-case scenario for Casas, but it is definitely a possibility. 

Photo Credit: Jarren Duran by Kelly O'Connor