Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández has been red-hot at the plate for Double-A Portland

After a torrid month of July, Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez got his August off to a solid start for Double-A Portland on Sunday.

Though the Sea Dogs ultimately fell to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats by a final score of 7-6 at Hadlock Field, Hernandez certainly did his part to prevent that from happening.

Starting at designated hitter and batting out of the six-hole, the 23-year-old went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and two runs scored on the afternoon.

The tw0-run homer, which came off Fisher Cats reliever Graham Spraker, was Hernandez’s 11th big fly of the year and it cut Portland’s deficit down to two runs at 7-5. Tanner Nishikoa followed with a solo shot of his own to make it a one-run game, but New Hampshire was ultimately able to hold and take the series finale in a close contest.

Hernandez’s two-hit outing raised his batting line on the season to a respectable .252/.296/.467 (103 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, 11 home runs, 25 RBI, 24 runs scored, eight strikeouts across 59 games (223 plate appearances) on the year.

The Red Sox originally acquired Hernandez — as well as infield prospect Nick Sogard — from the Rays back in February in exchange for relievers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs as well as cash considerations.

Hernandez, who does not turn 24 until November, signed with Tampa Bay for $225,000 as an international free agent out of Colombia during the 2014 signing period.

After five years in the organization, the Rays added Hernandez to their 40-man roster in November 2019 in order to protect him from that winter’s Rule 5 Draft, though he did not play another game in their system after that (but spent time on the club’s taxi squad and postseason player pool) with the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since he was a member of Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster at the time of the four-player trade from this past February, Hernandez immediately joined Boston’s 40-man roster and received an invite to major-league spring training as a result.

The right-handed hitting backstop was optioned to the Sox’ alternate training site in early March and later began the 2021 minor-league campaign with Portland.

Through his first several weeks as a member of the Sea Dogs, Hernandez — for the most part struggled — as he hit just .210/.248/.384 (67 wRC+) over 138 trips to the plate from the beginning of May until the end of June.

As soon as the calendar flipped to July, however, Hernandez seemed to turn a corner offensively, and it started with a three-hit performance against the Fisher Cats in Manchester on July 4.

Over the next four weeks, Hernandez simply lit it up at the plate. In five games between the Reading Fightin Phils from July 13-18, he amassed a total of eight hits while boasting an OPS of 1.318 thanks to putting together three multi-hit outings.

By the time the month of July came to a close over the weekend, not only had Hernandez not been traded, but he also posted a stellar .324/.378/.588 slash line (158 wRC+) in addition to clubbing four homers, driving in 13 runs, and scoring 11 of his own over his last 22 games and 68 plate appearances dating back to July 1.

Among Double-A Northeast catchers with at least 50 at-bats over the course of July, Hernandez ranked first in batting average, first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS, tied-first in hits (22), second in doubles (6), tied-second in home runs, and second in RBI.

On the other side of the ball, it appears as though Hernandez still has room to develop when it comes to what he does defensively. So far this season, the 6-foot-1, 237 pound backstop has committed six errors while allowing 10 passed balls to elude him while behind the plate. He has also thrown out 13 of 49 (26.5%) runners attempting to steal off him.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, “Hernandez has a plus arm behind the plate and moves well for a big catcher, but his receiving is fringe-average and needs to continue to improve.”

Regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s farm system — which ranks tops among catchers in the system, Hernandez is currently one of four backstops on the Sox’ 40-man roster alongside veterans like Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki and fellow prospect Connor Wong.

Given his standing on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, one has to wonder if Hernandez could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A Worcester before season’s end if he continues to produce at a consistent level.

Not only would promoting Hernandez to the WooSox give the Red Sox a chance to evaluate how the young backstop adjusts to a new level of competition and new pitching staff, it would also grant them the opportunity to see if Hernandez is worthy of his 40-man spot, or if it would be better suited for another prospect in need of protection from December’s Rule 5 Draft.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Jarren Duran drawing praise from manager Mike Scioscia, veteran teammates during Team USA training camp

Former Angels manager Mike Scioscia managed the best player in baseball for eight years (2011-2018) in the form of Mike Trout.

Trout, a three-time American League MVP, eight-time All-Star, and eight-time Silver Slugger Award winner, is without a doubt the textbook definition of a five-tool player, and has been for quite some time.

So when Scioscia, who is currently managing Team USA ahead of an Olympic qualifying event in Florida, describes one of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system as a five-tool player, that is saying something.

Who is that Red Sox prospect exactly? None other than outfielder Jarren Duran, of course.

Duran, like fellow top Sox prospect Triston Casas, is one of 13 major-league prospects currently taking part in Team USA’s training camp down in southwest Florida.

As of now, Team USA’s roster — which also consists of a plethora of big-league veterans — is made up of 28 players, but will be whittled down to 26 by Sunday (May 30).

Since the training camp began earlier this week, Team USA has played a total of three exhibition games as of Friday. In those three games, Duran is the only player on the team who his hit a home run to this point.

“Looking at video ever since he was selected for our club, you just see the talent jump off the screen,” Scioscia recently told Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser. “Seeing him in person, his first step is incredible everywhere, whether he’s trying to steal a base or he’s in center field. He’s a five-tool player. When you call a guy a five-tool player you’re saying that he’s special. He’s in an elite group. I think that Jarren has that that skill set that can make him an impact player very quickly in the major-leagues.”

Duran, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, which ranks tops among outfielders in the organization.

After turning heads last summer at the alternate training site, over the winter in Puerto Rico, and in Fort Myers during spring training, the 6-foot-2, 202 pound left-handed hitter opened the 2021 minor-league season with Triple-A Worcester.

Prior to heading down to Florida to join Team USA, Duran was carrying with him a .278/.366/.625 slash line to go along with four doubles, seven home runs, 12 RBI, 14 runs scored, 10 walks, 21 strikeouts, and four stolen bases through 18 games played (82 plate appearances) for the WooSox.

Per Glaser, “USA Baseball identified Duran as a player it wanted last spring for the qualifier that was originally scheduled to take place in March 2020,” but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed everything back by a year.

Even with that delay, Team USA still took interest in Duran, as general manager Eric Campbell explained to Glaser.

“He makes you stop and watch,” Campbell said. “He’s a great player.”

The manager and general manager of Team USA are not the only ones who have been impressed with what they have seen from Duran, as longtime big-league third baseman has also been awestruck by the young outfielder.

“This kid Duran from the Red Sox has opened my eyes,” said Frazier. “I talk about work ethic with these kids. I mean, head and shoulders way above where I was at that age.”

Assuming both Duran and Casas — who was playing for Double-A Portland — make the 26-man roster, Team USA will open this upcoming qualifying tournament for the summer games against Nicaragua in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

Jeter Downs, Boston’s No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America, is also slated to play for his home country of Colombia in the same ‘ 2021 Baseball Americas Qualification Event.’

“It’s a good learning experience,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said last weekend in regards to Casas and Duran playing for Team USA. “Obviously, to play for your country is an honor. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn from some guys who were very successful at this level. I hope for them that they can contribute and do the job.

“I think it’s a great experience,” added Cora. “Being around (Scioscia)… what an honor. He’s going to help them to be better. … This is part of, actually, player development. You’re going to be around some guys who have done it at the highest level of competition — one of the highest levels. It will be great for them.”

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas has homered 3 times in his last 2 games for Double-A Portland

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas followed up one of the best performances of his young career with another impressive showing for Double-A Portland on Thursday.

After crushing two home runs as part of a four-hit, six-RBI night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, Conn. on Wednesday, Casas belted a three-run homer — his third big fly in his last two games — while going 2-for-4 with three runs driven in.

Matched up against Rockies minor-league left-hander Nick Kennedy, the left-handed hitting first baseman came to the plate with runners at the corners in what at the time was a 3-2 game in favor of Portland.

On the fifth pitch he saw from Kennedy, Casas unloaded on a 93 mph fastball and deposited it to deep right-center field to clear the bases and put the Sea Dogs up 6-2.

He had previously singled in the first inning and also struck out twice to finish the night with two hits in four trips to the plate in what would go down as a narrow 6-5 victory for Portland.

What Casas has done these last two games against the Hartford Yard Goats is nothing short of a breakthrough considering the start he had gotten off to in his debut season in Double-A.

After making Portland’s Opening Day roster out of minor-league spring training earlier this month, the 21-year-old was slashing a measly .182/.280/.182 with no extra-base hits and just two RBI through his first six games of the year.

By going 6-for-10 with three home runs and nine RBI in his last two games, though, Casas has raised his batting average on the season 131 points to .313 and his OPS on the season 534 points all the way up to .996.

Casas was originally selected by Boston in the first round (26th overall pick) of the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Fla).

Even with no minor-league season last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Miami-area native was still able to impress Red Sox officials while at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket and even received an invitation to big-league camp earlier this spring.

“He’s a good hitter,” Red Sox manager Cora said of Casas before Thursday’s game against the Athletics. “He hasn’t played much baseball since he signed but it’s good to see him putting good swings. He knows the game, he knows his swing and he knows what to do with his swing. This is a guy — the future is bright, the way we see it, and he’s a very important piece of this organization.”

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Casas is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 37th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

Because he is still so young and has only played a handful of games above Single-A, Casas is still likely a long ways away from making his major-league debut with the Red Sox. He even said that at this point in time, he is not yet major-league ready.

“I’m not putting any expectations on myself this year. I don’t have any specific numbers in mind,”  Casas told MiLB.com’s Michael Avallone on Wednesday. “I just want to stay healthy, go out there every day and play hard to see where it gets me. I’m not Major League ready yet. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m happy to do it and get where I want to go.”

(Picture of Triston Casas: Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Triston Casas, top Red Sox prospect, belts 2 homers, drives in 6 runs as part of breakout performance for Double-A Portland

Triston Casas had gotten off to a rough start to begin the 2021 minor-league season.

After the 2020 season was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Casas made Double-A Portland’s Opening Day roster out of minor-league spring training earlier this month.

Coming into Wednesday night, the 21-year-old was carrying with him a .182/.280/.182 slash line with no extra-base hits and just two RBI through his first six games of the young season.

Wednesday served as somewhat of a springboard for Casas though, as the first baseman put together his best performance with the Sea Dogs to this point in Hartford, Conn.

Matched up against the Hartford Yard Goats, the Double-A affiliate of the Rockies, at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, Casas crushed his first two home runs of the year as part of a 4-for-6 night at the plate.

The first homer came off Rockies minor-league right-hander Will Gaddis in the top of the fourth inning and was an absolute no-doubter to right-center field.

The second homer came off righty Nate Harris with runners at the corners in the top of the sixth and was hit to nearly the same location.

Casas also knocked in two more runs on a two-run double in the seventh to finish the evening with six RBI as part of a commanding 14-3 victory for the Sea Dogs.

After Wednesday’s impressive showing, the left-handed hitting Casas raised his batting average on the season to .286 and now sports an OPS of .891.

“I’m feeling really good physically and mentally,” Casas told MiLB.com’s Michael Avallone following Wednesday’s contest. “Tonight I just shortened up my approach, didn’t go out of the [strike zone] and had some success. Hopefully I’ll keep riding this as long as I can, but I’m really happy to be back out there. I feel good.”

Casas, a native of Miami, was originally selected by the Red Sox with the 26th overall pick in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft.

Since then, the American Heritage High School product has risen through the ranks to the point where he is now regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 39th-ranked prospect in all of baseball.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Casas is still a ways away from garnering any big-league consideration. But if he shows that Wednesday’s performance was not a fluke and he can start to handle Double-A pitching on a consistent basis, then he might just be knocking on the door sooner rather than later.

“I’m not putting any expectations on myself this year. I don’t have any specific numbers in mind,” Casas said to Avallone. “I just want to stay healthy, go out there every day and play hard to see where it gets me. I’m not Major League ready yet. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m happy to do it and get where I want to go.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was among those who was impressed with what Casas did on Wednesday night, as he told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) Thursday afternoon.

“He’s a good hitter,” Cora said. “He hasn’t played much baseball since he signed but it’s good to see him putting good swings. He knows the game, he knows his swing and he knows what to do with his swing. This is a guy — the future is bright, the way we see it, and he’s a very important piece of this organization.”

(Picture of Triston Casas: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Thaddeus Ward, top Red Sox pitching prospect, set to make Double-A debut Friday

For the first time since August 27, 2019, Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward will toe the rubber in a minor-league game on Friday.

Ward, 24, will be making his first start of the season for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs as they go up against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats — the Double-A affiliate of the Blue Jays — at Hadlock Field.

The young right-hander is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 10 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fourth among pitchers behind only Bryan Mata, Jay Groome, and Tanner Houck.

The Red Sox selected Ward, a native of Fort Myers, in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida.

Since then, Ward has been solid at every level he has pitched at, most recently posting a 2.33 ERA, a .203 batting average against, and a 70:32 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 12 starts and 54 innings pitched with High-A Salem in 2019 after earning a promotion from Low-A Greenville in June of that year.

With no minor-league season in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ward was left to work out on his own — with some guidance from the Red Sox — before being invited to the team’s fall instructional league at the Fenway South complex in his hometown.

Despite not having the opportunity to further develop during a traditional minor-league season last year, Ward is confident that he will be able to put his best foot forward in 2021 regardless of the circumstances.

“I think it is going to be difficult for everybody,” Ward told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith last October. “But at the same time, I do have the confidence that I put in the work. I really committed to making sure I stayed on top of myself, made sure I kept doing what I was supposed to be doing and not let circumstances dictate if I get better or not… I’ve got to be better at the end of the day than when I woke up. That’s how I approached every single day. So hopefully when we get back into the games come spring training, or next season, whatever, hopefully I’ll be ready for it.”

Ward came into spring training this year having received an invitation to big-league camp as a non-roster invitee. He was later reassigned to minor-league camp on March 9.

In four Grapefruit League appearances, the 6-foot-3, 193 pound hurler allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, four walks, and two hit batsmen to go along with four strikeouts in four innings of work.

“First things first, slow down. He doesn’t have to impress people,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Ward back in March. “We know the player. We know the stuff. We love the tempo on the mound. But we need him to be careful. Sometimes you come into spring and you want to open eyes. He doesn’t have to do that. We know what he can do.

“He’s a very likable guy, a great competitor,” added Cora. “He pays attention to details on the mound: slowing down the running game, great tempo. He knows what it takes. And stuff-wise, it’s pretty good. It’s pretty good. So excited to see him compete. I’ve been hearing about him for a few years. It’s to go out there and have a blast. That’s the most important thing.”

As he prepares to make his first career Eastern League start on Friday, Ward — who works with a sinker, cutter, slider, changeup, and curveball — is entering a somewhat pivotal year in his young career considering the fact that he is Rule 5 eligible for the first time come December.

In other words, the Red Sox will need to add Ward to their 40-man roster by November 20 if they want to protect him from this winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

Given Ward’s potential, that is almost certainly a lock to happen at the moment. Still, in what is sure to be an unprecedented season of minor-league baseball, how the righty performs this year will be something worth monitoring nonetheless.

(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

Among the topics Ian and I discussed are how he got his start in scouting, how he is looking forward to the return of minor-league baseball next week, what he thought about brand-new Polar Park in Worcester, his thoughts on what the Red Sox could do in this summer’s draft, his impression of the Sox’ farm system under Chaim Bloom heading into the 2021 minor-league season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Ian for taking some time out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow Ian on Twitter (@IanCundall) by clicking here. You can check out his work for SoxProspects.com by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Polar Park: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Top Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata returns to throwing program after suffering slight UCL tear in early March

After suffering a slight tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in early March, Red Sox top pitching prospect Bryan Mata has recently restarted his throwing program, manager Alex Cora said earlier Sunday morning.

Mata, who experienced soreness behind his right triceps during the early stages of spring training, underwent an MRI last month that revealed a slight tear in his UCL.

At that time, the right-hander was to be shut down for at least three weeks as the Sox opted for rest and treatment as opposed to surgery.

Since then, Mata has apparently been progressing at a steady pace. On March 24, Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush revealed that the young hurler would “get back into a throwing program before too long” to test out his elbow.

On April 4, Cora revealed that Mata had indeed restarted his throwing program.

“He started his throwing program towards the end [of camp],” Cora said Sunday. “I’m not sure where he’s at right now as far as [distance], but I know he started his throwing program when we left camp.”

Mata, who turns 22 in May, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No.4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among pitchers in the organization.

The 6-foot-3, 227 pounder out of Venezuela was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November 2019. With no minor-league season in 2020, the righty spent his year developing at the club’s alternate training site — where his fastball reached 97 mph — and fall instructional league and was viewed as arguably the top starting rotation depth option the Red Sox had to offer at the minor-league level.

With this recent setback, though, it would seem to be in the Sox’ best interest to not rush Mata back and instead see how he responds to the throwing program he has recently started again before determining the next steps in this rehab process.

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Eduard Bazardo, John Schreiber, Connor Wong optioned to alternate training site

Following their 5-3 victory over the Braves at JetBlue Park on Tuesday afternoon, the Red Sox made their fourth round of spring roster cuts, as the club optioned three players to their alternate training site.

Right-handed pitchers Eduard Bazardo and John Schreiber and catcher Connor Wong were all optioned to Boston’s alternate site in Worcester, but they will remain at the Fenway South complex through the end of spring training.

Bazardo, 25, was initially added to the Sox’ 40-man roster back in November after showing out at the team’s fall instructional league late last year.

The Venezuelan-born righty is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system and carries with him a 1.80 ERA through his first four appearances of the spring — the most recent of which came in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s contest against Atlanta.

Schreiber, meanwhile, joined the Red Sox’ 40-man roster when he was claimed off waivers by the Tigers last month.

The 27-year-old, equipped with a funky delivery, has gotten off to a tough start with his new club this spring, allowing a total of two earned runs in just 1 1/3 innings of relief spanning two appearances out of the bullpen.

Prior to getting claimed by Boston in February, Schreiber has spent the first two years of his big-league career with Detroit in 2019 and 2020, posting a 6.28 ERA and 4.21 FIP over 28 total outings and 28 2/3 total innings pitched while consistently being shuttled between Triple-A and the majors.

Finally, we arrive at Wong, undoubtedly the most familiar name on this brief list.

One of three players acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade last February, the 24-year-old Wong is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in the Sox’ organization, ranking tops among catchers.

The former third-round pick out of Houston, who hits from the right side of the plate, clubbed his first home run of the Grapefruit League campaign for Boston on Tuesday.

Since camp broke in February, Wong has drawn plenty of praise from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“There’s a calmness about him that managers like,” Cora said of Wong. “And we’re very happy. Last year, he was part of the big trade, and I bet everything was going so fast for him. And now for him to slow everything down, and being able to work, it’s a testament of who he is as a person, as a player. And obviously he’s somebody that we’re counting on in the future.”

All three of Bazardo, Schreiber, and Wong will now begin the 2021 season at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester.

Following Tuesday’s moves, the Sox now have approximately 47 players at major-league camp in Fort Myers with Opening Day just over two weeks away.

(Picture of Eduard Bazardo: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora on top prospect Triston Casas: ‘For him to be around us, it’s beneficial for us’

He may have gone hitless in his first start of the spring on Monday afternoon, but it was still encouraging to see top Red Sox prospect Triston Casas back on the field.

The 21-year-old infielder made his spring debut against the Twins on Sunday and went 0-for-2 after pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts in the sixth inning of an eventual 5-5 draw with the Twins.

On Monday, he started at designated hitter and eventually moved to first base while going 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk and a strikeout batting out of the nine-hole.

Again, even while not getting into the hit column against the Rays on Monday, Casas still put some of his tools on full display by drawing a six-pitch walk off Hunter Strickland in the second inning and by smoking a line-drive flyout to right field off left-hander Josh Fleming in the fourth.

Before making his Grapefruit League debut over the weekend, Casas had missed some time at Red Sox camp in Fort Myers after being evaluated for a non-baseball-related medical issue in Boston earlier this month.

Now that he is back at camp, it appears that the 2018 first-round draft pick will have the chance to get more in-game at-bats through the end of spring training.

“We know the hitter. I’m starting to know the player,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Casas earlier Monday morning. “He’s a guy that asks a lot of questions. He’s always checking where he’s at, what he needs to do. Yesterday, we had to move him to third base, and you could see he was prepared. He’s looking around, he’s looking at Carlos [Febles] pre-pitch. For him to get at-bats, it’s good. But just for him to be around us, it’s beneficial for us.”

According to Baseball America, the left-handed hitting Casas — listed at 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds — is the No. 1 prospect in Boston’s farm system going into the 2021 season.

The Miami-area native is projected to begin the 2021 season with Double-A Portland, but, as previously mentioned, he will presumably get the chance to get into some more Grapefruit League games these next few weeks.

“He had a big smile,” said Cora in regards to Casas’ first game back on Sunday. “For everything he went through the last few weeks, it was refreshing to see him out there.”

(Picture of Triston Casas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs suffers injury to left side in Sunday’s game against Twins, will be evaluated on Monday

After coming on as a defensive replacement at shortstop for Marwin Gonzalez in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 5-5 draw against the Twins, Red Sox infield prospect Jeter Downs would have to leave the game an inning later.

Fielding a ground ball off the bat of Jose Miranda to lead off the bottom half of the seventh, the 22-year-old dove to his left, landed hard on his side, and as NESN’s Jerry Remy put it, “never got a handle on the baseball” as Miranda reached first base safely without a throw.

Upon getting back on his feet, it appeared that Downs was a bit shaken up as he crouched down in front of second base, leading to Red Sox manager Alex Cora and associate head athletic trainer Brandon Henry coming out to check up on the young infielder.

Following a brief conversation between the three, Downs exited the game and was replaced by Chad De La Guerra at shortstop while fellow top prospect Triston Casas took over at third base.

During his postgame media availability, Cora couldn’t get into the specifics about what was hampering Downs, only assuring that more information will be revealed on Monday.

“They checked him and it seems like he’s OK,” Cora said via Zoom. “They’re going to obviously wait for him tomorrow, see how he feels at night, and we’ll have more tomorrow.

“It was his left side,” he added. “We can’t say it’s an oblique injury or just a bruise. We’ll wait until tomorrow.”

Downs, who was one of three players the Red Sox acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade last February, is currently regarded by Baseball America as Boston’s No. 2 prospect behind only Casas.

The right-handed hitting middle infielder out of Colombia was reassigned to minor-league camp on Friday and is projected to begin the 2021 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester.

(Picture of Alex Cora, Jeter Downs, and Brandon Henry: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)