The newest addition to the Boston Red Sox farm system has had high praise from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, but what are the Red Sox getting?
Downs was drafted in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds before being traded to the Dodgers in December of 2018. Downs has yet to play in a big-league game. He spent most of last year in Single-A and only briefly played in Double-A. Between the two leagues, the 21-year-old hit .276 with 24 home runs, 86 runs batted in, and 24 stolen bases. He was slated to be the Dodgers No. 3 prospect in their farm system. He is currently ranked 87th in the MLB top 100 prospect rankings.
His Baseball America scouting report is as follows.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Named after Derek Jeter and the younger brother of Red Sox first-base prospect Jerry Downs, Jeter went 32nd overall in the 2017 Draft and signed with the Reds for $1,822,500. Despite being one of the youngest regulars (age 19) in the pitcher-friendly Class A Midwest League, he produced 13 homers and 37 steals in his first full pro season — numbers matched by only one other Minor Leaguer (Padres outfielder Buddy Reed). The Dodgers acquired him in December as part of a package for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer.
Downs has the tools to hit for average and power. He combines a simple right-handed swing with a patient, all-fields approach. He’s strong for his size, delivering most of his home runs to his pull side and driving the ball to both gaps.
Downs gets the most out of his average speed, parlaying his aggressiveness and instincts into stolen bases. He played shortstop in his pro debut but spent more time in 2018 at second base, where his arm and range are better fits. He returned to shortstop at the beginning of 2019 and there’s also a possibility that he winds up in center field, but the good news is that he has the bat to profile at all three positions.
While he certainly will not be the future at shortstop for the Red Sox due to Xander Bogaerts, he can play second pretty well, which will need someone to man shortly. His scouting report says it all, he is mainly a contact hitter who can spread the ball to any part of the field. That’s something Bogaerts can assist him with once he hits the major league level. He has a nice glove, and range with his throwing arm.
The Red Sox almost certainly have their eyes on a dominant infield within the next three seasons. With Rafael Devers at third, Bogaerts at short, Downs at second, and a rotation of Dalbec and Chavis at first with Dalbec rotating an outfield spot will be amazing to watch soon. While it is sad to finally see Mookie Betts leave the franchise, there is still plenty of hope for this season’s team, but for the franchise as a whole throughout the 2020s.
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