Red Sox prospects reap experience, results in Arizona Fall League
Brian Abraham, the Red Sox director of player development, recently returned from a trip to the Arizona Fall League, and he’s pleased with the results.
The Red Sox have a large contingent of prospects playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions, including Triston Casas, Jeter Downs, Christian Koss, Kole Cottam, Josh Winchowski, Connor Seabold and Brendan Cellucci.
“It’s a good combination of guys who had a want to go there for various reasons, but also some with the necessity to go there to get at-bats, or innings, or work on some things,” Abraham said. “Overall, for the guys to experience the competition, to be around players from other teams, coaches from other teams, and the atmosphere of a relaxed environment, but also a working environment was great.
“As good as the experience was, the results were really strong, too. Our guys had various levels of success during their time out there.”
Casas, a first baseman, continued his impressive overall season in Arizona. The 21-year-old earned a spot on the Fall Stars rosters after hitting .356 in 19 games for the Scorpions, including 6 doubles, 1 home run and 10 RBIs. He struck out 18 times and walked 14.
“Triston was very excited to go out to the Fall League,” Abraham said. “He has shown in a limited time in pro ball he performs well under pressure, and performs well on the big stage, and there’s no better place to do that than the Fall League to face top-of-the-line competition in the middle of the order every day.”
The 26th overall pick in 2018 hit .284 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs in 77 games this season for Double-A Portland. He only struck out 63 times in 329 plate appearances and drew 49 walks. After his promotion to Worcester, he hit .242 in nine games with the WooSox, including 3 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs and 7 RBIs.
“It was good to see him carry things over, good to see him get consistent at-bats and reps at first base,” Abraham said. “It’s not a surprise to see him continue to have that success. It was a real strong way to move into the offseason and prepare for next year.”
Downs maintains pace
Downs admitted at the end of the WooSox season that he planned on improving his offensive game in the Fall League. Even though he struggled, hitting .190 in 99 games in Worcester, he finished strong after the Red Sox worked with Downs, and the sides made some mechanical adjustments at the plate.
It worked down the stretch of the season, and he was able to carry it over into the AFL, which is a good sign because he did put in the work.
“The work he’s put in showed during the Fall League,” Abraham said. “He’s hit the ball really hard and has been really consistent at the plate. He’s had good at-bats with a good approach. He’s seeing the ball well, drew walks and drove the ball well. He was very excited to go down there. He wanted to do that for himself and show some of the changes he made he could carry over into the fall and into this offseason. He’s done a tremendous job doing so.”
Right-hander Connor Seabold posted a 1-3 record with a 4.87 ERA in six starts for the Scorpions. He walked 12 and struck out 23 in 20⅓ innings. Since he missed the majority of the WooSox season due to arm issues, the Red Sox wanted him to build up his innings in the AFL.
“We’re really excited about the growth he’s made out there, continuing to work on refining his pitches, his pitch mix and his controlled strike zone. We’re very optimistic about where he’s going into next year,” Abraham said.
Josh Winchowski was a consistent and successful starter in Portland and Worcester last season, but the Red Sox wanted to see him work out of the bullpen in the AFL. He was 1-0 in six games. He posted four walks and three strikeouts in 11 innings.
“It was a chance for him to work on some of his pitches, a couple of specific areas that he went there to focus on,” Abraham said. “Being able to face high-level competition, and to be able to show himself he’s able to get these types of hitters out, we’re really excited about not only the results, but the progress he’s made.”
Kole Cottam split time between Greenville and Portland last season, and this is an opportunity for him to catch upper-level pitching.
“We’re really excited about where Kole is and he swung the bat extremely well out there, so we’re happy about that,” Abraham said.
Christian Koss played well for High-A Greenville and playing in the AFL gave him a chance to become more versatile at different positions. This was also a chance to reward Koss for the season he had last summer.
“Being around the group, being around some other guys has been phenomenal for him,” Abraham said. “He played phenomenal defense and had some really good at-bats.”
While the focus continues to be on development this offseason, the Red Sox are in the process of hiring a new manager for the WooSox after the organization relieved Billy McMillon of his duties after the team’s inaugural season.
“It’s a thorough process,” Abraham said. “It’s an important role for us. We’d never put a timeline on anything, but there’s been a lot of turnover in baseball and we want to make sure we do our due diligence and speak to various people both internal and external and make sure we make the right decision, not only for the Worcester Red Sox, but for the organization.”
—Contact Joe McDonald at JMcDonald2@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeyMacHockey.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Red Sox prospects, Arizona Fall League, director of player development Brian Abraham