A Dad’s Love Helps Propel Young Baseball Phenom

By Mike Gonzalez KAPP/KVEW ABC TV

The Call

It was the afternoon of July 4th, 2009. 8 year old Triston Casas was enjoying time boating with his younger brother 7 year old Gavin and Dad Jose when the call came. “Something happened to your Mom,” said the elder Casas. Triston could tell by the tone of his fathers voice and the worried look on his face this was serious. Triston always was wise beyond his years knew there was something different about the phone call.

As the trio headed back towards shore, sweat covered his face. Thoughts of what he would say to his boys spun through Jose Casas’ mind. “I was worried how they would react,” said Casas. As they hit dry land, little did the boys know they were stepping into a new reality, one that meant life without the mother they so dearly loved. “It was difficult time,” said Jose.

The boys mother, Christine Casas had died sometime that day. It was a life cut short at just 38 years old. The cause of death was unclear. It appeared she had a heart attack after stepping out of a hot bath. “It was devastating at the time. There was a lot of uncertainty at the time. I knew I had to step up and really keep the boys positive and focused,” said Casas.

The Foundation

At the time of her death Jose and Christine had been divorced for a few years. Despite the divorce they stayed close friends and were determined to see their boys have a better life. Both Christine and Jose were athletic and shared a love of sports. Both Triston and Gavin channeled their love of sports into the game of baseball. “From the very beginning both Triston and Gavin loved the game. I never had to forced them to play. I never had to say come one guys get your gloves you have practice. They were always ready with uniform on and glove in hand. They’re both great players.”said Casas.

Triston has come a long way from his Little League days by transforming his body through great work ethic.

Casas says at a very young age the boys knew hard work was the key to success.”They knew when they practiced hard the had great results.”I think that understanding has fueled him ever since. He soon was awarded Best Hitter on his 7u team. “They both love watching MLB on TV and loved Playstation “The Show”. I mean the boys just gravitated towards the game. So it’s a real love for a sport without having to push them towards something,” says Casas.

The Outlet

The game of baseball was clearly the place that Jose Casas knew his boys would need to get through the tumultuous first few years of their mother’s death. “There’s no question baseball was a blessing for the boys. It was an outlet. Somewhere they could get away from the pain,” said Casas.

But Casas says he never created a sense of pity for his boys. Casas says he always instilled a sense of gratefulness for what they have and the talents God has given them. By 10 years old Triston jumped to the national stage, helping the USSSA 10u Team to a National Championship. “I was so excited when he received the MVP award,” said Casas.

At 14 the coaches at the University of Miami caught wind of the young phenoms talents and offered him a scholarship, an invitation he quickly gave a yes. “It was incredible for the Canes to reach out to Triston. He’s always been a huge Hurricanes fan,”said Casas.

The Test

When Senior Director of USA Baseball’s Brooks Webb met Triston Casas at 13 years he could see there was lot’s of potential but knew he’d have to put in work. Despite Triston’s ability to hit a ball a mile there were still question marks surrounding the standouts game. Yes he was big! Standing 6-2″ and weighing 215 pounds was impressive. But it did come with some baby fat and the inability to run very fast.

“He came a long way in a short period of time from the first summer that I saw him at 13 years old to even when he was selected in September of 2014. When he showed back up the following summer for 15U Trials, it was very clear the time and energy he had put into not only becoming a better baseball player offensively, but the work he put in physically to improve his body and enable himself to play multiple positions and be even more athletic in the field, ” said Webb.

Triston at NC State’s Doak field in 2014, where his Uncle Micheal was a stand out pitcher for the Wolfpack

Triston says it was his desire to get better that fueled his hard work.” I knew I had something to prove. So I worked extremely hard to transform my body. I never want to say I should have worked more. I work extremely hard so I can get great results,” says Triston.

“I think what impressed me the most about Triston was just the professional-type work ethic he brought to the field every single day from start to finish. It didn’t matter if it was getting in extra defensive work during batting practice or his attention to detail with every rep he took in the batting cage. He simply has a very mature, disciplined approach and is one of those players who leads by example. When the time came for someone to step up in a big spot, it was no surprise to see Triston come through for his team more times than not, ” said Webb.

The USA Team

On the USA National team at the Pan Am Games this past summer, Casas helped his 15u team win a Gold Metal. He won three individual honors including: Best Offensive Player, Slugger Award and All Tournament First Basemen. “He was one of those players who simply bought in from day one and made it very clear to our staff leading up to National Team Trials how important it was to him to make our final roster and wear the red, white, and blue. I think the experience you get internationally is unrivaled based on the environment and the level of talent that you’re going to face game in and game out. Triston is the type of player who doesn’t back down from a challenge on the field, and facing some of the players from countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia he saw this summer, it’s definitely something that will serve him well as he moves into Florida high school and summer baseball. He’ll face a lot of talented players this spring and summer, but I don’t think there are many challenges that Triston will come upon that he won’t be ready for based on his experience this past summer,” said Webb.

The Next Step

In 2016 Triston faces a new challenge. He steps onto the field as the starting first basemen for the American Heritage Patriots. Head Coach Bruce Aven knows a lot of eyes will be on the 16 year old. “There’s no doubt he has great physical ability. He will have to make some adjustments like hitting change ups and curveballs,” said Aven.

Aven says with some players that have such immense potential and talent you worry about a player getting bored. Aven says that’s not the case with Casas. “He’s very mature for such a young guy and always works hard,” says Aven. Coach Aven who had a great career of his own spent 5 years in the Big Leagues and says if Casas keeps working hard the sky is the limit.” He has potential to be a first round pick there’s no question he has the tools,” says Aven.

As for Triston Casas, getting to this point has been a labor of love. “I love coming to the park every day. I never take anything for granted,” said Triston. Those early lessons in love, loss and victory have become the foundation of who he is now. “I know the harder you work the luckier you get and I’m trying to be the best player I can on the field,” says Casas.

Triston says he will never forget the impact his mother Christine made on his life. She often shuttled him and his brother to practices, batting cages and countless number of games. He says he often thinks about his Mom before he hits the field. “I know she’s watching and I hope she’s proud of me,” says Casas.

‘I’m very proud of T and will support anything in his life that leads him to happiness, for now I know that is being taken care of on and off the field. I feel he’s in a place of calm and awareness of how to embrace the struggle. I feel he is ready to face the world as a young man embarking on his first High School season with a sense of purpose and pride. I’m exited for the future but keep everything day to day, we live in the moment,” says his father Jose.

To read more, visit http://mikekappkvew.blogspot.com/2016/02/handling-expectations-nothing-new-for.html