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September 23, 2021 at 7:18 AM

Cup of Coffee: Casas homers in Triple-A debut

9/23 Cup of Coffee: With the regular season over for most of the minor leagues, Worcester was the only squad in action, as a pair of players making their WooSox debuts made an impact.

Worcester Red Sox 4, Rochester Red Wings (WAS) 3
Wednesday marked the start of the Triple-A "Final Stretch," a ten-game showcase being held this year in lieu of playoffs. Triston Casas (pictured) made his WooSox debut, facing a tall order in Nationals' top prospect Cade Cavalli. Cavalli won the first battle of former first rounders, getting the strikeout in the first inning. However, in the bottom of the third, Casas pushed an opposite-field two-run homer to tie the game at 2-2. Next batter Franchy Cordero hit a 450-foot blast to give the WooSox a lead they would not relinquish. 

Casas was not the only Top-30 prospect making his Worcester debut, as catcher Ronaldo Hernandez went 2 for 3 after the promotion from Portland. Jeter Downs also picked up a pair of hits, pushing his OPS back up over .600 for the first time since early August. Downs and Hernandez were both hit by pitches as well. Jonathan Arauz doubled as part of his two-hit night. Rehabbing outfielder Jarren Duran was 1 for 4 out fo the leadoff slot. 

Raynel Espinal has been one of the system's most consistently effective pitchers in 2021, and he kept up that trend Wednesday night. The righty allowed two runs on four hits in five innings, striking out five and walking one. Rochester narrowed its deficit to 4-3 with a sixth-inning run off of Brad Peacock, but the trio of Stephen Gonsalves, Austin Brice, and Kaleb Ort slammed the door with a scoreless inning apiece.

Player of the Day: Not to be overshadowed by his fellow promotee from Portland, Ronaldo Hernandez reached base three times in his WooSox debut. The catcher, acquired last offseason from Tampa Bay in a deal for pitchers Jeffrey Springs and Chris Mazza, enjoyed a second-half resurgance after a slow start to 2021. In his final 56 games with the Sea Dogs, Hernandez sported a .325/.364/.585 slash line that included 20 doubles, 10 home runs, and a strikeout rate of only 17.7%. 

Photo Credit: Triston Casas by Kelly O'Connor