Red Sox manager Alex Cora was not impressed when he witnessed Triston Casas’s batting style a year ago. Cora has changed his view, though, after Casas’s 20-home run season with Greenville and Salem.
“Last year, taking BP, and you see his swing now,” Cora said before the Red Sox met the San Francisco Giants Thursday. “And the improvement and the adjustments that he’s made, and this is not innate to his swing, when he took BP here.”
Casas has been named the Red Sox’ minor league Offensive Player of the Year, Thad Ward Pitcher of the Year and Ryan Fitzgerald Defensive Player of the Year.
“This never gets old, coming to Fenway,” Casas said. “Not too much has changed but I feel like I learned a lot in this first season and looking forward to the next one. Definitely, when I came here a year ago I was pretty rattled. But after the season I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with the organization and everything. I feel like the adjustment that I made from high school to where I am right now is pretty drastic.”
Casas has also become more composed at the plate, via several “tweaks.”
“Not too much, not an overhaul or anything,” Casas said of his alterations. “But as the information gets a little bit better and the hitting coaches are able to relay a little bit more to me, we just tweaked a few things. But nothing too drastic. It was a lot of things. It was setup, positioning in the box, obviously a little bit of swing path, and changing my leg [position]. It made it a little bit better.”
Casas, 19, homered in his final at-bat of the season to join Xander Bogaerts and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox to total 20 or more home runs in a season as teenagers in the last 50 years. Casas totaled 19 home runs in 118 games with Greenville, then finished the season with two games at Salem in Class A-Advanced. Casas also struck out 118 times.
“Strikeouts are a part of the game, obviously, and I had more strikeouts than hits  this year, which is something I definitely need to improve on,” Casas said. “But it’s something I’m not really concerned with. It’s part of the game and I’m going to keep swinging and doing my thing, but I’m not really thinking too much about it.
“Being more aggressive in the zone, going up there with a plan, trying to attack the first pitch, was definitely an adjustment I made, and carried into the rest of the season. I definitely dealt with it by understanding I’ve got a lot of opportunities and I can’t dwell on failing right at the moment, and knowing I’ve got a lot of opportunities in the future. It’s just a matter of putting them behind me, having short-term memory and trying again the next time.”
Casas went from American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla., to turning down an offer to play at the University of Miami, after becoming the Sox’ first-round draft choice last year.
The biggest changes for Casas?
“Definitely the quick turnarounds,” Casas said. “You know, coming from high school, you play two or three times a week, maybe, and it’s pretty different getting an off day every two weeks. That’s probably been the biggest thing, understanding that you’ve got a lot of games, a lot of at-bats, quick turnarounds. You’re going to get the opportunity to fail, it’s just a matter of coming out, putting it behind you, and putting your best foot forward the next day.”