Red Sox: Jeter Downs is already making a strong impression this spring

Feb 14, 2020; Lee County, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox infielder Jeter Downs (20) blows a bubble with his bubble gum as he works out during spring training. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2020; Lee County, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox infielder Jeter Downs (20) blows a bubble with his bubble gum as he works out during spring training. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs is making his mark this spring

The Boston Red Sox spring training season has officially started with games kicking off this past weekend. Players of all ages and backgrounds have participated in games thus far, including big-name prospect Jeter Downs.

The second baseman, ironically named after former Yankees star Derek Jeter, is looking to make an impression this spring and show both the front office and coaching staff that he has made strides in his game. Should things go well for the middle infielder throughout the spring and summer, his debut could come sometime in the latter half of the season.

The 26-man roster in Boston is currently congested with several players that are more than capable of manning second base. Kiké Hernandez is likely to see a majority of the time at the keystone this season, with the backup spot expected to go to one of Michael Chavis or Christian Arroyo.

Downs has never been mentioned as being a legitimate candidate to start the year in the big leagues, nor should he be after a lost year in 2020. With that being said, Jeter is almost certainly going to start the year in the minor leagues considering the front office would rather give him everyday reps to further his development.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora sat down for a press conference after the team’s first day back in action against the Twins, and when he was asked about Downs, he spoke about his performance on the field and what to expect going forward after his first appearance of the spring.

"“He’s part of the future. We know that. Very happy he was able to perform,” Cora said. “We’ve just got to let him play. Defensively, it seems like the game comes easy for him. Sometimes too easy and maybe that’s where he makes errors or the lack of concentration happens. First of all, we have to learn the player.”"

Cora appeared to be very optimistic about Downs’ eventual role with the team but still gave off the impression that both he and the front office are looking to give him more seasoning before calling on him to play at the top level.

Considering some of the comments made by Cora regarding his fielding and how he commits errors, this would seemingly further cement Downs’ eventual start in Triple-A. Errors are costly to the outcome of a game as has been the case in the first two Grapefruit League games in the young Red Sox pre-season. One of the several errors on the day was committed by Downs while playing shortstop.

While his glove could use some polishing, his bat appears to be doing just fine, as he showcased some opposite field power after flicking a home run over the fence in right in a two-hit performance on Sunday afternoon. That game was followed up with another hit in Monday’s game, so there is no doubting his ability to get his bat on the ball.

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Overall, the young middle infielder has managed to make good on his notoriety as a well-regarded prospect thus far, albeit in a very small sample size. The remainder of his days as a participant of the big-league camp is sure to be worth keeping tabs on, considering Cora himself noted that Downs is “part of the future,” although the timetable of that aforementioned future remains unclear.

Overall, his offensive potential could turn out to be more consistent than any of the current options on the roster over the course of spring training, but short-term players were brought here to give the team a stable segue to the future of the club. the Red Sox front office will most likely opt to start his 2021 campaign in the minor leagues to iron out his defense and give him more playing time.

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Nevertheless, Downs is knocking on Fenway’s door and is likely to become a mainstay in the lineup at some point within the calendar year, especially if he produces over the course of the minor league season in 2021. With how strong his spring training has been to this point, it’s just a matter of time before we see him launching baseballs over the Green Monster.