How Red Sox 1st-round pick Triston Casas' hair sent a message

Rob Bradford
February 28, 2019 - 11:56 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Triston Casas was part of the Red Sox' family the minute his name was called at last year's June amateur draft. With the 26th overall pick, the Sox made that official.

But it wasn't until Casas showed up at JetBlue Park last week that the partnership seemed real. And for that he can thank his father, Jose. Dad knew when it came to becoming a Red Sox sometimes the hair makes the man.

"I was going to shave it just before I came over to spring training but my dad convinced that it was part of the Red Sox thing, to have the beards and the wild hair," Casas told "He’s the one that kind of convinced me to leave it. He said forget all that other clean-cut stuff. That’s for other organizations. Let’s go wild and try fit in."

It hasn't been easy fitting in for the 6-foot-4 slugger who at this time last year was playing for American Heritage High in Florida.

Two games into his professional career Casas tore the UCL in his right thumb while also experiencing an avulsion fracture, necessitating three months of rehab that included a pin and cast.

The entire pro baseball experience was going to be a crash course, but because of the injury Casas had to adjust even more than he anticipated.

"It felt really long. I can’t lie," he said. "Coming to the facility every day with a cast on, watching all my friends play was tough. But it also gave me a chance to learn from a fan and a teammates’ perspective. I was able to learn a lot from the game. Just pick apart every play when you’re in the game you don’t really pay attention to because you’re focused on different things. Picking apart other people’s games, learning from other people’s mistakes. Learning how I can get better even not being on the roster."

The approach suggested a maturity beyond his 19 years. It offered a perspective the third baseman now understands will help an evolution that is fully underway.

"Just trying to put myself in different people’s positions and trying to learn from their mistakes," Casas said. "It’s an awful thing to do but everybody makes mistakes. We play a game of failure so it's unavoidable. To maximize your potential you have to expand your horizons.

"Nobody came up to me with any suggestions. I kind of took it upon myself to look at the brighter side of my injury. To always look at the brighter side of things. Sure, I was hurt. It was a terrible thing, but I was going hard diving, trying to make a play for my team. It was part of the game. It’s something I didn’t mope about but I did take a step back and ask my myself how I could get better so when I did come back I could be in game form."

And there were more to the lessons than just watching. Casas actually got something out of his very brief time playing after inking his deal.

"I’m glad that I failed because it exposed some flaws in my swing when I would face higher velocities," he said. "I was able to work on those this offseason. I felt I was able to get in the cage every day, put my hours in and try and develop my muscle memory as efficient as I could to put together a swing that can be professional. It was eye-opening. Obviously, in high school you get away with some things. I’m glad that my struggles opened my eyes to some things I can improve on.

And while it was fun watching the World Series run from afar -- in his case from the team's Dominican Republic Academy ("Those guys go crazy," he said) -- it's more satisfying swinging a bat and throwing a ball while taking tangible steps toward making the major leagues.

"I take a lot of pride in wearing this uniform and feel so blessed to be a little part of it," Casas said. "To be a part of it in the future would be such an honor."

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