BOSTON -- Aaron Judge wasn’t the only big man who turned heads at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
This was no lazy fly ball in which Casas topped the Monster with for the first time in his second home game for the Red Sox.
Boston’s No. 2 prospect hit a towering shot that caromed off a sign beyond the Monster Seats. And that’s the only reason his second career homer -- and first at home -- didn’t land on the street.
The Statcast metrics for Casas on a 97.8 mph heater from Yankees ace Gerrit Cole?
An exit velocity of 108.6 mph, a launch angle of 26 degrees and a projected distance of 411 feet. That will play in any park. But particularly at Fenway, in which the Monster is 310 feet from home plate.
“I definitely think that wall is going to play to my swing,” Casas said. “I think that short wall is going to help me out a lot. I’m going to continue working on it, playing pepper with it and using it to my advantage.”
The funny thing about Casas driving one over the Monster for the first time is that it was far from his first intention. With Rafael Devers on third with two outs, Casas just wanted to drive Devers in when Cole fired that 2-0 fastball.
“I was trying to stay short,” said Casas. “I know I didn't need to do much, I was just trying to get that run in. I was just trying to stay on top of the ball, hit a single. So I’m going to try to apply that approach more often. It obviously came against a great pitcher. I wasn’t trying to do that. I just put a really good swing on it, and it found a really good part of my bat.”
This was a normal work day, which meant on-field batting practice. Red Sox manager Alex Cora enjoyed watching the left-handed hitter’s approach.
“It's funny because when he was taking [batting practice], I was like, 'Oh, this is the first actual regular day for him at Fenway -- show up early, do his routine, take batting practice out there,'” Cora said. “He was shooting balls over the wall. It was impressive.”
Aside from the homer, Casas also worked a five-pitch walk against Cole. And then a player who is listed at 6-4 and 252 pounds did something far more unexpected than go deep. He stole second base. It might be a while before he gets his second for a player who had 10 career thefts in 284 Minor League games.
Perhaps Casas got a chuckle out of Judge getting caught stealing in his attempt on Tuesday. What were his impressions of seeing No. 99 in the flesh for the first time?
“The thing I take away from his swing, especially seeing it live for the first time, is his effort level. He’s going out there [and not swinging too hard],” Casas said. “He doesn’t sacrifice mechanics. He didn’t miss his pitches today.”
As for Casas, he is acclimating to life in the Majors. Tuesday marked his seventh career start. Though he has just three hits in his first 24 at-bats, there is every reason to think he will evolve into a strong hitter at the highest level.
“Triston, the way he kind of commands the strike zone, he’s not afraid to be in an 0-2 count,” said Red Sox righty Nick Pivetta, who gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings. “I think he has a good, balanced swing and he’s able to compete in those moments and it’s impressive to watch.”
Casas came to the ballpark excited about his first participation in the rivalry. The only downer, he said, was the final score.
“I know it’s intense,” Casas said. “I know it’s supposed to be the best rivalry in baseball, and there was a lot of back and forth today. And I’m hoping for the same tomorrow and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”