Casas homers twice, plates 6 in 4-hit night

May 13th, 2021

Whatever frustration might have been feeling over a slow start came to a head Wednesday night. The baseball took the brunt of it.

Boston's top prospect homered twice en route to a career-high six RBIs as Double-A Portland rolled past Hartford, 14-3. Casas added his first double of the season and singled to equal his personal best of four hits set on June 10, 2019.

"Those first few games were tough," Casas said. "I think I was trying to do too much last week. The bat felt like a feather in my hands and my eyes were getting big with every pitch. I was trying to crush everything."

Baseball's 35th-ranked prospect stepped into the box in the top of the first inning in the midst of a 1-for-14 slide over his previous four games. He singled to right field in the opening frame and flied out in the second before hitting the accelerator. Casas blasted his first Double-A homer over the right-center field fence in his third at-bat and followed that with a three-run blast to right-center two innings later. His double to left in the seventh brought home two more runs to give him six RBIs, eclipsing his previous high of four done three times previously. Casas led off the ninth with a chance for a fifth hit but grounded out.

The offensive explosion hiked the 21-year-old's batting average 104 points to .286 while his OPS jumped to .891.

"I'm feeling really good physically and mentally," Casas said. "Tonight I just shortened up my approach, didn't go out of the [strike zone] and had some success. Hopefully I'll keep riding this as long as I can, but I'm really happy to be back out there. I feel good."

Slow starts seem to be a habit for Casas, who hit .208 with 31 strikeouts across 27 games with Greenville in April 2019. The Miami native rebounded to finish his first full-season campaign at .256/.350/.480 with 20 homers and 81 RBIs in 120 contests. He led the Boston farm system with 51 extra-base hits and was named a postseason All-Star.

Without Minor League action in 2020, Casas took up residence at the Red Sox alternate training site last summer. The 6-foot-4, 252-pound first baseman made sure his time around veterans of the Majors and the Minors wouldn't go to waste. Casas took the same approach during his time with the Major Leaguers in Spring Training. Although he tallied only a single hit in 11 Grapefruit League at-bats, the experience left a lasting impression.

"It was an awesome time for me," Casas said. "I got along with all of the guys and I tried to stick around the bat rack as much as I could. There's some impressive talent [on the Red Sox] and I was able to pick up some tips from a number of guys, all of who were eager to help."

Despite his strong 2019 season, Casas knows his work and time as a Minor Leaguer is far from over ... and he's fine with that.

"I'm not putting any expectations on myself this year. I don't have any specific numbers in mind," Casas said. "I just want to stay healthy, go out there every day and play hard to see where it gets me. I'm not Major League ready yet. I have a lot of work to do, but I'm happy to do it and get where I want to go."

Portland's offense was clicking on all cylinders as the club rapped out 17 hits, including eight for extra bases. Johan Mieses, Joey Meneses and Roldani Baldwin joined Casas in the homer barrage.

Sea Dogs starter Josh Winckowski allowed a run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in six innings to earn his first Double-A victory.