BOSTON — While the name of first-round pick Triston Casas might be new to Red Sox fans, it’s not unfamiliar to one prominent major-leaguer.
Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, who attended the same high school as Casas at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla., has been considered himself a fan of the Red Sox’ newest prospect for years. Casas, along with a group of other high school prospects in the area has taken hitting lessons with Hosmer’s brother, Mike at the Hosmer family home.
Through that connection, Casas has come to regard Hosmer as one of his mentors.
“He’s invited me over his house a couple times and kind of taken me under his wing,” Casas told MLB Network’s Scott Braun on draft night. “I’m pretty appreciative of that.”
Hosmer, a World Series champion and former All-Star, actively tries to serve as a mentor for amateur prospects from South Florida. Hosmer works with fellow major-leaguers like Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, Royals outfielder Jon Jay and Indians first baseman Yonder Alonso to create a strong support system for area players.
“We want all those kids who get drafted and get to pro ball to feel like we’re there for them,” Hosmer said Tuesday. “It’s kind of our little team down there in South Florida. Any time they want to reach out, they can.”
The similar path to the big leagues between Casas and Hosmer, who are joined by former Red Sox Deven Marrero, White Sox prospect Zack Collins and Red Sox prospect C.J. Chatham as American Heritage alumni who were selected in the MLB Draft, made it an obvious choice for Hosmer to want to help Casas.
“For me, Triston hits home,” Hosmer said Tuesday. “A first baseman, from my same high school. I’ve heard nothing but good things… and a lot of people have been telling me about him.”
Hosmer, who has watched Casas hit on multiple occasions, sees some differences between his swing and Casas’. Instead, he was quick to compare Casas to another power-hitting first baseman in the National League.
“Any time he’s in the cage taking swings, I immediately think of [Braves first baseman] Freddie Freeman,” Hosmer said. “Just with his whole setup and how he looks in the box.”
As impressed as he has been by Casas’ bat, Hosmer has been even more impressed with the 18-year-old’s off-field demeanor.
“Mentally, he’s about as advanced of a high-school kid as I’ve ever seen,” Hosmer said. “He’s extremely smart and asks the right questions. There were usually around four or five kids there [when we hit] and he never tried to act any different or think that people should act differently toward him. He’s extremely humble. It’s the work that he, his brother and his dad all put in to put him in this position to start his career. Overall, for me, from the outside looking in, I’ve seen the workload this kid has and I’m extremely happy and extremely proud of him and his family.”
Hosmer, who was a first-round pick (3rd overall) himself back in 2008, reached out to Casas before the draft to tell him to enjoy the day with his family and not worry about where he’d come off the board.
“He knew he was going to be a first-round guy, so I told him the same thing I always say,” Hosmer said. “It doesn’t matter the number where you get drafted; it’s about where you get drafted and the situation you have. I think his situation being in Boston is pretty ideal.”
Being in the first season of the eight-year deal he signed with San Diego last winter, Hosmer might get the chance to face off against Casas at some point down the road. And in the words of his mentor, Casas could make an impact sooner than some predict.
“I’m extremely happy for him,” Hosmer said. “He’s a guy that in two or three years could be a household name.”
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