SoxProspects News

September 4, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Casas slams three homers as Sea Dogs sweep twinbill


9/4 Cup of Coffee:
With the recent excellent play of Nick Yorke and Marcelo Mayer getting so much attention, Triston Casas (pictured) decided to send a not-subtle reminder of who is the top-ranked prospect in the system. Portland swept its doubleheader as its first baseman slugged two home runs in the opener and another in the nightcap. Raynel Espinal made a successful return to the Worcester rotation, while every starter reached base in Salem's romp. Greenville fell despite another multi-hit game from Yorke, and the DSL teams both won their contests.

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Raynel Espinal, the SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Month in August, returned to the WooSox after a quick, COVID-necessitated jaunt to the majors. Espinal went three scoreless innings, giving up just one hit, walking none, and striking out six of the 12 batters he faced. Rochester got on the board in the fifth as old friend Blake Swihart took Austin Brice deep for a solo shot. Two of the five Worcester hits were off the bat of Tate Matheny, both of them going for two bases. Franchy Cordero also doubled as part of a two-hit evening, 

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Friday's doubleheader in Manchester was a makeup of a contest originally scheduled for June 30 and thrice rained out, but the outcome was worth the wait for the Sea Dogs. Spots two through five in the Portland lineup were a death row, going 9 for 14 with 19 total bases in the opener. Triston Casas provided the fireworks, blasting a two run homer in the third that was merely a warmup for a 472-foot, three-run moonshot in the fourth that registered an exit velocity of 111 miles per hour. Casas also added a single, finishing the opener 3 for 4. Devlin Granberg scored three runs, going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Hudson Potts had a pair of doubles, and Ronaldo Hernandez was 2 for 3 with a double, hit batsman, and two runs scored. 

Josh Winckowski cruised through four scoreless innings before New Hampshire reached him for three runs in the fifth. Overall he allowed the three runs on four hits in five innings, striking out six and walking four. Rio Gomez extended his scoreless streak to 22 innings with two scoreless frames, a stretch of 14 appearances dating back to July 8.


Casas picked up in the nightcap where he'd left off, blasting a two-run homer in the fifth inning, his 10th of the season, and third of the day. Casas went 2 for 4, finishing the day 5 for 8 with seven RBI. Spending the day in the 6'5" Casas' considerable shadow, Granberg scored four more runs, going 3 for 3 with a walk, finishing the day having reached base seven times and scoring each of them. Hernandez had two more doubles, giving him three on the day and 25 for the season. Victor Santos was the beneficiary of the offensive outburst, allowing two runs on six hits in 5 1/3, striking out five, and walking two. 

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Two of Greenville's hottest hitters continued to surge, but it was not enough to prevent the Drive from stalling for the fourth time in five games in the series. Nick Yorke has been so scorching since his promotion to Greenville that a 2-for-4 effort dropped his OPS by 25 points. Yorke now has multiple hits in six of his nine games with the Drive. A solo home run off the bat of Christian Koss accounted for all of the Greenville scoring. It was the 13th round-tripper of the year for Koss, with 12 coming in 49 games since July 4. Dylan Spacke took the loss, allowing four runs on seven hits in four innings. 

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It was a strong offensive performance for Salem, with the lineup churning out 13 hits as every starter reached base. Ceddanne Rafaela, who climbed 18 spots in the most recent SoxProspects.com rankings, led the charge out of the leadoff spot with a double, triple, two runs scored, and an RBI. His nine triples lead the organization. Matthew Lugo also tripled and scored twice as part of a two-hit evening. 2021 draft picks Niko Kavadas and Tyler McDonough had two hits apiece. Gilberto Jimenez has pieced together a nine-game hitting streak, going 1 for 3 with an RBI. He was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning: Brainer Bonaci, promoted from the Florida Complex League earlier in the day, flew out to center field in his first taste of Low-A. Chih-Jung Liu had a strong start, giving up one run on four hits in 4 2/3, striking out six, and walking two. Liu had a disastrous start on July 24, allowing eight runs in just 2/3 of an innings. In six starts since, he's given up just seven earned runs in 27 1/3 (a 2.30 ERA), with 36 strikeouts and eight walks. 

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The Red squad took advantage of 11 walks, four wild pitches, and a hit batsman to score eight runs on a day when they picked up just six hits. The team's two top prospects combined to reach base five times despite going hitless, with Endrso Lira drawing three free passes and Miguel Bleis getting a walk and hit by a pitch. Allen Castro led the offense, going 2 for 4 with a double, walk, two runs, and RBI. Starter Jose Ramirez allowed two runs on three hits in four innings.

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Team Blue's win over the Pirates' Black squad moved them into a tie for second place, 3 1/2 games out of first place. Armando Sierra had a big day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a solo homer and two runs scored. Rivaldo Avila hit his first professional homer, a two-run shot in the fourth inning. Yordanny Monegro turned in a solid start, giving up one run on three hits in four innings, striking out six against just one walk. 

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Player of the Day: Consider the day Triston Casas had in this context: his teammate Devlin Granberg went 5 for 6 with seven runs scored and was not really even in consideration here. It has been an interesting season for Boston's top prospect. Atypical for a highly-ranked first baseman in the minors, Casas hadn't shown significant in-game power during the regular season, Olympics trip aside. He entered Friday with just 17 extra-base hits, and his .144 isolated slugging ranked lowest among Portland regulars. Since returning from his power explosion at the Tokyo games, Casas has displayed his typical outstanding approach, entering play with a .402 OBP in 20 games in that stretch. Friday showed why, despite middling slugging numbers, Casas' power potential isn't a concern. His slugging percentage jumped from .411 to .455 on the outburst, and his OBP is back up to .380, it's highest point since May 16. 

Photo Credit: Triston Casas from Game 2 Friday by Kelly O'Connor

 
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