Red Sox option Jeter Downs to Triple-A Worcester; Christian Arroyo expected to be activated from COVID-19 related injured list on Friday

The Red Sox optioned infielder Jeter Downs to Triple-A Worcester following Wednesday’s 6-2 win over the Tigers, the team announced Thursday. While no corresponding move has been made yet, utility man Christian Arroyo is expected to join the team in Cleveland for this weekend’s series against the Guardians after spending the last eight days on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Downs spent three days with Boston after getting called up from Worcester for the first time on Monday. While the 23-year-old did not appear in the Sox’ first two games against the Tigers, he did make his highly-anticipated major-league debut in Wednesday’s series finale at Fenway Park.

Batting ninth and starting at third base for the first time in his professional career, Downs went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He put the ball in play once, but it was a 323-foot flyout that died on the warning track in left field.

Defensively, Downs had two groundballs hit his way while playing third base for the first time since his high school. He fielded them both cleanly and picked up two assists by doing so.

“That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Downs said of his experience Wednesday night. “I still can’t believe the game is over. It felt so fast. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted to, but oh well. The team got the win, and that’s the most important thing.”

Downs’ first stint in the majors was always expected to be a short one. He will now return to Worcester, where he is batting .180/.297/.397 (86 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 21 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 53 games (222 plate appearances) for the WooSox this season.

Arroyo, meanwhile, was initially placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on June 15 after testing positive for the virus. The versatile 27-year-old began a rehab assignment with the WooSox on Tuesday and went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts in two games.

With the Red Sox this season, Arroyo has batted .187/.227/.319 with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, 10 runs scored, three stolen bases, three walks, and 17 strikeouts over 34 games spanning 98 trips to the plate. He has seen playing time at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, and right field.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Jeter Downs to make major-league debut at third base as Red Sox go for sweep of Tigers

As expected, Jeter Downs will make his major-league debut for the Red Sox in Wednesday night’s series finale against the Tigers at Fenway Park.

Downs, who was called up from Triple-A Worcester on Monday, will bat ninth and start at third base for Boston as it goes for a three-game sweep of Detroit.

It will mark Downs’ first-ever professional appearance at third base. The 23-year-old has only been used as a second baseman or shortstop throughout his minor-league career, which began when he was selected by the Reds in the first round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Since then, Downs has for the most part maintained his status as one of the game’s top prospects despite being part of two blockbuster trades. In December 2018, the Colombia native was dealt to the Dodgers as part of a deal that sent the likes of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and others to Cincinnati. A little more than a year later, he — as well as Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong — was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for Mookie Betts and David Price in February 2020.

As the top prospect acquired in that deal, Downs began his career in the Red Sox organization with high expectations. He struggled to the tune of a .606 OPS in 99 games with the WooSox last season and has not fared much better this season.

At the time he was promoted, the right-handed hitting infielder was batting just .180/.297/.397 (86 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 21 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 53 games (222 plate appearances) for Worcester. As previously alluded to, Downs has been used exclusively at shortstop this season, though he does have plenty of experience at second base as well.

Downs, who turns 24 next month, will become the second player to make his big-league debut with the Red Sox this year and joins right-hander Josh Winckowski by doing so. The 5-foot-11, 195 pounder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

With Downs starting at third base for Alex Cora and the Red Sox on Wednesday, Rafael Devers will receive the night off while Xander Bogaerts will start at short. On the mound, it will be righty Michael Wacha making his 12th start of the season for Boston opposite Detroit left-hander Tarik Skubal.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox call up top prospect Jeter Downs from Triple-A Worcester, designate James Norwood for assignment

The Red Sox have called up infield prospect Jeter Downs from Triple-A Worcester. In order to make room for Downs on the major-league roster, recently-acquired right-hander James Norwood was designated for assignment, the team announced prior to Monday’s series opener against the Tigers.

Downs, who turns 24 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally acquired the Colombian-born infielder — along with Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong — from the Dodgers in the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles in February 2020.

After spending the entirety of the 2021 campaign with Triple-A Worcester and closing it out in the Arizona Fall League, Downs returned to the WooSox for the start of the 2022 season. Coming into play on Monday, the right-handed hitting 23-year-old was batting .180/.297/.397 (86 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 21 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 53 games spanning 222 plate appearances.

Defensively, Downs has seen all his playing time this season come at shortstop. But the 5-foot-11, 195 pounder also has extensive experience at second base and should provide the Red Sox with solid infield depth up the middle while he is up with the club.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Downs’ first stint in the majors is expected to be short-lived with both Christian Arroyo (COVID-19) and Enrique Hernandez (right hip flexor strain) slated to return to action before Boston’s three-game series against Detroit comes to an end.

As of Sunday night, the Sox had 14 pitchers and 12 position players on their big-league roster. By Monday, all MLB teams were required to cut the number of pitchers on their roster down to 13. Boston accomplished this by effectively swapping Norwood in favor of Downs.

Norwood, who was acquired from the Phillies in exchange for cash considerations on Saturday, was activated for Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals but did not pitch in the game. The Red Sox now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or possibly sneak the 28-year-old through waivers and keep him in the organization.

Following Monday’s transaction, the Sox still have 39 players on their 40-man roster. That will increase to 40 once Arroyo is activated from the COVID-19 related injured list.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox make first round of spring roster cuts: Jeter Downs, Jay Groome among 5 optioned to Triple-A Worcester; Triston Casas, David Hamilton among 6 reassigned to minor-league camp

Following a 10-4 loss to the Twins at JetBlue Park on Wednesday afternoon, the Red Sox announced their first round of spring training roster cuts.

Infielder Jeter Downs, left-hander Jay Groome, and right-handers Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, and Josh Winckowski were all optioned to Triple-A Worcester. On the other side of things, infielders Triston Casas, David Hamilton, and Christian Koss, left-hander Chris Murphy, and right-handers Durbin Feltman and Brian Keller were all reassigned to minor-league camp.

Downs, Groome, Mata, Seabold, and Winckowski were optioned to Worcester since they are on Boston’s 40-man roster. According to SoxProspects.com’s roster projections, all but Groome are expected to begin the 2022 season with the WooSox. Mata, of course, is still recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent last April.

With these five getting optioned, the Red Sox’ spring training roster now consists of 34 40-man roster players. Notables who remain following Wednesday’s cuts include Eduard Bazardo, Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Ronaldo Hernandez, Connor Wong, Jonathan Arauz, and Jarren Duran.

Elsewhere, six non-40-man roster players were sent back to minor-league spring training. Of these six, the most notable is undoubtedly Casas, who is regarded by many — including Baseball America — as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Casas, Feltman, and Keller seem like locks to begin the year with Worcester, while Hamilton, Koss, and Murphy are projected by SoxProspects.com to start out with Double-A Portland.

All told, the Red Sox now have 55 players in major-league camp with Opening Day against the Yankees on April 7 fast approaching.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Brayan Bello recognized by MLB Pipeline as top international prospect in Boston’s farm system

With the 2021-2022 international signing window officially opening this weekend, MLB Pipeline recently identified each team’s top international prospect across Major League Baseball.

For the Red Sox, that was none other than pitching prospect Brayan Bello, who signed with Boston out of the Dominican Republic for just $28,000 back in July 2017.

Then just 18 years old, Bello has since emerged as one of the premier young hurlers in the Sox’ farm system at the age of 22.

This past season, the right-hander began the year in the starting rotation High-A Greenville and quickly made strides there. He posted a 2.27 ERA and 2.82 FIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to seven walks over six starts (31 2/3 innings pitched) for the Drive before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in early June.

With the Sea Dogs, Bello picked up where he left off by pitching to the tune of a 4.66 ERA — but much more respectable 3.12 FIP — with 87 strikeouts and 24 walks across 15 starts spanning 63 2/3 innings of work.

During his run in Portland, Bello was selected to represent the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field alongside infielder Jeter Downs. He allowed one run on one hit while recording the final two outs of the third inning of that contest on July 11.

At the conclusion of the 2021 minor-league season, Bello was recognized by the Sox and was named the organization’s starting pitcher of the year. The fiery righty was subsequently added to the club’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, Bello operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball that touches 98 mph, a changeup, and a slider. He is also in the midst of developing a two-seamer, according to Baseball America.

In terms of prospect ranks, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks tops among pitchers in the organization. The Samana native is also ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top pitching prospect the Red Sox have in the fold.

Bello, who turns 23 in May, is presently projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the upcoming 2022 campaign with Portland. That being said, an early promotion to Triple-A Worcester certainly seems possible depending on the kind of start he gets off to in the spring.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Recapping how contingent of 8 Red Sox prospects performed in Arizona Fall League

The 2021 Arizona Fall League season came to a close on Saturday night, with the Mesa Solar Sox besting the Surprise Saguaros by a final score of 6-0 in the championship game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

With the Arizona Fall League making a triumphant return and closing out another exciting season in the desert, now is the time to reflect on how the contingent of prospects the Red Sox sent out west did in what is regarded by many as Major League Baseball’s “finishing school.”

Back in October, it was revealed that the Sox would be sending eight prospects to Arizona to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions alongside Guardians, Twins, Giants, and Rays minor-leaguers.

That initial list included catching prospect Connor Wong, but the backstop was ultimately replaced on Scottsdale’s roster by Christian Koss since he was a member of Boston’s taxi squad for the majority of their postseason run.

That said, the eight prospects who wound up representing the Red Sox were right-handers A.J. Politi, Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski, left-hander Brendan Cellucci, catcher Kole Cottam, first baseman Triston Casas, and infielders Jeter Downs and Koss.

So, without further ado, here is how each of those players fared during their time with the Scorpions, who finished the 2021 AFL campaign with a record of 12-18.

A.J. Politi, RHP

Politi began the minor-league season in Double-A Portland’s starting rotation, but ultimately transitioned back to the bullpen towards the end of the summer and remained there upon reporting to Scottsdale.

In 11 relief appearances this fall, the 25-year-old posted a 5.84 ERA and 1.86 WHIP to go along with 10 strikeouts to eight walks over 12 1/3 innings of work.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 15th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Seton Hall University, Politi is eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft since he was left unprotected and not added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday.

Connor Seabold, RHP

Seabold had quite the eventful first full season in the Red Sox organization after coming over from the Phillies alongside fellow righty Nick Pivetta in the same trade that sent relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia last August.

The 25-year-old hurler was already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster coming into 2021, but missed the first several weeks of the minor-league season due to right elbow inflammation and did not make his first start for Triple-A Worcester until July 23.

On September 11, Seabold made his major-league debut against the White Sox and allowed two earned runs in three innings before being optioned back to Worcester the following day and closing out the year with the WooSox.

With the Scorpions, Seabold led the team in innings pitched (20 1/3) while putting up a 4.87 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in addition to 32 strikeouts and 12 walks over six starts.

Josh Winckowski, RHP

One of five players the Red Sox acquired in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals in February, Winckowski emerged as one of the organization’s more intriguing pitching prospects in 2021 and was just protected from the Rule 5 Draft as a result of doing so.

Now a member of the Sox’ 40-man roster, Winckowski split the minor-league season between Portland and Worcester while mainly being used as a starter, but was strictly utilized as a reliever in the fall league.

Over six appearances out of Scottsdale’s bullpen, the 23-year-old produced a 6.55 ERA and 1.73 ERA while recording three strikeouts and four walks in his 11 innings of relief. He was also involved in a benches-clearing brawl with Pirates prospect Canaan Smith-Njigba earlier this month that resulted in both players getting ejected.

Brendan Cellucci, LHP

The lone southpaw representing the Red Sox in the AFL, Cellucci spent the entirety of the 2021 season at High-A Greenville and was one of six lefties on Scottsdale’s roster this fall.

In 10 outings out of the Scorpions bullpen, Cellucci yielded an ERA of 6.94 and WHIP of 1.89 while striking out 11 batters and walking seven over 11 2/3 innings pitched.

A native of Philadelphia who the Red Sox took out of Tulane University in the the 12th round of the 2019 draft, Cellucci does not turn 24 until next June and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career next winter.

Kole Cottam, C

Cottam began the year in Greenville and later earned himself a midseason promotion to Portland on July 29 while being regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in the Red Sox farm system.

A 2021 Arizona Fall League Fall Star, the 24-year-old backstop out of the University of Kentucky batted a solid .275/.356/.510 with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, seven runs scored, five walks, and 13 strikeouts over 15 games (59 plate appearances) for Scottsdale.

Like Politi, Cottam could have been added to Boston’s 40-man roster last week in order to receive protection from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. But the club elected not to do so, thus leaving him exposed if other teams are interested.

Triston Casas, 1B

The top prospect the Red Sox sent to Arizona, Casas put the finishing touches on an impressive year by putting his talent and skills on full display with the Scorpions.

Among qualified hitters in the AFL this year, Casas ranked fifth in batting average (.372), first in on-base percentage (.495), 26th in slugging percentage (.487), and 12th in OPS (.982) in the process of joining Cottam in the Fall Stars Game.

A former first-round pick out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.) in 2018, the left-handed hitting Casas — who turns 22 in January — figures to make his big-league debut for Boston at some point during the 2022 season.

Jeter Downs, 2B/SS

There was always going to be pressure on Downs since he was the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous Mookie Betts/David Price trade last February, but the 23-year-old infielder got his first taste of the Triple-A level this year and it did not go all that swimmingly.

Still, the Red Sox sent Downs to play in the fall league despite the struggles he endured over the summer and it now appears as though that decision paid off.

Across 16 games (72 plate appearances) for the Scorpions, Downs slashed .228/.389/.491 with five homers, 14 RBIs, nine runs scored, four stolen bases, 14 walks, and 18 strikeouts while playing both middle infield positions.

Like Winckowski, Downs was added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday, which came as no surprise.

Christian Koss, INF

Acquired from the Rockies in exchange for pitching prospect Yoan Aybar last December, Koss enjoyed a solid 2021 season with Greenville and later received an invite to play in the Arizona Fall League in order to replace the aforementioned Wong.

In 14 games with Scottsdale, the versatile infielder batted .229/.275/.250 to go along with one double, six RBIs, four runs scored, two stolen bases, three walks, and eight strikeouts across 51 total trips to the plate.

A product of University of California, Irvine who played on the Cape in 2017 and 2018, Koss has proven he is capable of playing second base, third base, and shortstop in the minors.

The right-handed hitter turns 23 in January and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career next winter.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Red Sox add Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Jeter Downs, and Josh Winckowski to 40-man roster to protect them from Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox have added four prospects to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, the club announced earlier Friday evening.

Right-handers Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, and Josh Winckowski and infielder Jeter Downs were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster, which now increases from 33 to 37 players.

Clubs had until Friday at 6 p.m. eastern time to add eligible minor-leaguers to their respective 40-man rosters or otherwise risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft, which usually takes place during the last day of the Winter Meetings in December.

By adding just the four names listed above, the Red Sox could now be faced with losing other notable prospects such as Thaddeus Ward, Durbin Feltman, Ceddane Rafaela, Frank German, Victor Santos, Kole Cottam, and Gilberto Jimenez in next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

Of the quartet of prospects the Sox did add, one made it as far as the major-leagues under unique circumstances, two made it as far as Triple-A Worcester, and one made it as far as Double-A Portland this past minor-league season.

Bello began the year in High-A Greenville’s starting rotation, but earned a promotion to Portland on June 8. In 15 starts for the Sea Dogs, the 22-year-old righty posted a 4.66 ERA and 3.12 FIP to go along with 87 strikeouts to 24 walks over 63 2/3 innings of work.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $28,000 in July 2017, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among pitchers in the organization. He was named the team’s minor-league Starting Pitcher of the Year in September.

Crawford, on the other hand, started out in Portland this spring as he was coming off Tommy John surgery that he underwent in October 2019. The 25-year-old ultimately earned a promotion to Worcester in late July, signaling that he was on the verge of a big-league call-up.

In the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Red Sox called up Crawford from Worcester to fill in for Nick Pivetta against the Guardians on Sept. 5 at Fenway Park.

He allowed five earned runs in two innings and was promptly returned to the WooSox the following day, but Boston was able to remove the former 16th-round draft pick from their 40-man roster since he was a COVID-19 replacement.

Since the minor-league season ended last month, Crawford has been dominating in the Dominican Winter League. In four starts for Estrellas Orientales, he has allowed just two runs (one earned) on 12 hits, six walks, and 18 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 0.49.

Winckowski, meanwhile, was one of five players the Red Sox acquired in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February.

Like Crawford, Winckowski began the 2021 campaign with the Sea Dogs and pitched to the tune of a 4.14 ERA and 4.02 FIP over 21 appearances (20 starts) and exactly 100 innings before getting promoted to Worcester in late September.

In his brief stint with the WooSox that spanned two starts, the 23-year-old produced a 2.25 ERA and 3.28 FIP while recording 13 strikeouts and three walks in 12 innings pitched. He worked strictly as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League and is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into 2022 season.

As for Downs, the move for Boston to add him to the 40-man roster comes at no surprise considering he was the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles last year.

After the minor-league season was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Downs began 2021 with the WooSox and stuck their throughout the year while slashing .190/.272/.333 with nine doubles, 14 home runs, 39 RBIs, 39 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 131 strikeouts over 99 games spanning 405 trips to the plate.

Despite the difficulties Downs encountered in his first exposure to Triple-A pitching, there was never really any doubt when it came to the Red Sox adding the talented 23-year-old infielder to their 40-man roster.

Capable of playing both middle infield positions, Downs, like Bello, represented the Sox in this summer’s All-Star Futures Game in Denver. He also enjoyed some success in the Arizona Fall League these last few weeks — as evidenced by his .880 OPS for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Downs, who does not turn 24 until next July, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in the Red Sox farm system.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas selected to 2021 Fall Stars Game

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas has been named a 2021 Arizona Fall League Fall Star, the league announced on Wednesday morning.

Casas will represent the Sox and the Scottsdale Scorpions when he suits up for the East Division Fall Stars team this coming Saturday. Fellow Red Sox prospect Jeter Downs was also named a final vote candidate.

One of eight prospects Boston sent to Arizona, Casas has put together a strong showing in his brief time with the Scorpions. Through 17 AFL games, the 21-year-old first baseman is slashing an impressive .333/.457/.424 to go along with three doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, 15 runs scored, 13 walks, and 17 strikeouts over 81 plate appearances thus far.

Among the top hitters in this year’s installment of the Arizona Fall League, Casas ranks seventh in hits (22), ninth in runs scored, ninth in walks, ninth in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage, 23rd in slugging percentage, and 19th in OPS (.881), per MLB.com.

Casas, who turns 22 in January, has certainly had an action-packed 2021 season. He began the year with Double-A Portland, left the team on two separate occasions to ultimately help the United States baseball team win a silver medal in the Summer Games in Tokyo, and was promoted to Triple-A Worcester in late September.

The left-handed hitting infielder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system a little more than three years after he was selected by the Sox in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.).

Downs, meanwhile, will have a chance to join Casas in this weekend’s Fall Stars Game in Scottsdale.

The 23-year-old infielder, who also hails from the Miami-area, comes into play Wednesday batting .196/.393/.522 with five homers, 14 RBIs, nine runs scored, four stolen bases, 14 walks, and 15 strikeouts across 13 games (61 plate appearances) for the Scorpions.

Fans have until 2 p.m. eastern time on Friday to vote Downs into the Fall Stars Game, as he is competing against the likes of Giants prospect Marco Luciano and Rockies prospect Michael Toglia. Voting can be done by following this link.

As previously mentioned, the Fall Stars Game itself takes place on Saturday night. First pitch from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is slated for 7 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Taylor Jackson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs continues to light it up in Arizona Fall League

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs continues to rake for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.

As part of a 7-6 loss to the Glendale Desert Dogs at Scottsdale Stadium on Monday afternoon, Downs went 1-for-3 with a grand slam as well as a walk and strikeout while batting out of the eight-hole.

After drawing a two-out walk in the second inning, punching out in the fifth inning, and flying out in the sixth inning, Downs’ grand slam came in the bottom half of the eighth.

With two outs and the bases full after Desert Dogs right-hander Kyle Hurt on a single, a wild pitch, and two walks, Downs greeted the Dodgers prospect by crushing a bases-clearing grand slam to the opposite field that at the time cut Glendale’s lead down to one run.

By going deep yet again on Monday, Downs has now clubbed five home runs through his first six games for Scottsdale, which is tops amongst all hitters in the Arizona Fall League.

To go along with those five home runs, the 23-year-old middle infielder has also collected 13 RBI, scored seven runs, stole one base, draw eight walks, and strike out six times while slashing an impressive .333/.517/1.048 over 29 plate appearances thus far.

Regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Downs enjoying some early success three weeks into the Arizona Fall League campaign certainly is encouraging.

One of the three players the Red Sox got back from the Dodgers in the infamous trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles, the Colombian-born right-handed hitter endured his fair share of struggles with Triple-A Worcester this season.

Coming off a 2020 season in which he was limited to working out at the alternate training site on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, Downs hit just. 190/.272/.333 (62 wRC+) with nine doubles, 14 homers, 39 RBI, 39 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 131 strikeouts over 99 games (405 plate appearances) in his first exposure to the Triple-A level.

On the surface, those numbers obviously do not jump off the page. However, it is worth mentioning that from September 14 through the end of the minor-league season, Downs slashed a much-improved .316/.372/.579 (149 wRC+) to go along with one double, three home runs, eight RBI, four runs scored, one stolen base, three walks, and 11 strikeouts in his final 11 games (43 plate appearances) of the year.

It appears as though Downs has carried over how he ended his season with the WooSox to how he has started the Arizona Fall League season with the Scorpions, who will host the Surprise Saguaros in their 12th game of the year later Tuesday afternoon.

Downs, who does not turn 24 until next July, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this winter. And so he will most definitely be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline in order to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Taylor Jackson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs catching fire in Arizona Fall League

Red Sox top prospect Jeter Downs may only be a few weeks removed from an overall tough season with Triple-A Worcester this year, but the young middle infielder has certainly gotten off to a hot start in the Arizona Fall League.

Playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions alongside other Red Sox, Indians, Twins, Giants, and Rays prospects, Downs went 2-for-4 with a home run, an RBI, two runs scored, one walk, and one strikeout as part of an 11-9 loss to the Mesa Solar Sox at Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Batting out of the two-hole behind Rays prospect Matt Dyer and ahead of Twins prospect Matt Wallner, Downs began his day by crushing a solo shot off Marlins prospect Evan Fitterer with one out in the bottom of the first inning, marking the third straight game in which he has homered.

The 23-year-old, who was playing shortstop on Wednesday (and can also play second base), later drew an eight-pitch walk with no outs in the third inning, struck out on four pitches in the fifth inning, flew out to center field for the final out of the seventh inning, and led off the ninth inning with a single before scoring on a passed ball to wrap up what was a productive afternoon at the plate and on the base paths.

Since the 2021 Arizona Fall League season began on October 13, Downs has appeared in four games for the Scorpions and — following Wednesday’s strong performance — is currently slashing .357/.550/1.000 with three home runs, six RBI, five runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and three strikeouts over 20 trips to the plate.

One of three players (two prospects) the Red Sox acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles last February, Downs finally got his first taste of Triple-A action this year after the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the hole, the 2021 campaign was not a particularly encouraging one for Downs. While he was selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game in Denver over the summer, the right-handed hitter overall struggled to the tune of a .190/.272/.333 (62 wRC+) across 99 games and 405 plate appearances with the WooSox.

That being said, Downs was at least able to salvage his season towards the end, and it came right around the same time fellow top Sox Prospect and Miami-area native Triston Casas earned a promotion to Worcester in late September.

From Sept. 17 until the Triple-A season came to a close on October 3, Downs hit an impressive .355/.400/.581 (158 wRC+) with one double, two homers, seven RBI, three runs scored, one stolen base, two walks, and eight strikeouts over his final nine games (35 plate appearances) of the year. Casas was promoted from Double-A Portland right in the middle of that stretch on Sept. 22.

Downs, who does not turn 24 until next July, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks three spots behind Casas, who is also playing for the Scorpions with five other Red Sox prospects in left-hander Brendan Cellucci, right-handers Andrew Politi, Connor Seabold, and Josh Winckowski, catcher Kole Cottam, and infielder Christian Koss.

Connor Wong is also listed on Scottsdale’s roster, but the catching prospect is currently with the Red Sox as part of their taxi squad for their American League Championship Series clash with the Astros.

Going back to Downs, the 5-foot-11, 193 pounder out of Colombia can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this winter if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November 2020 deadline.

When speaking with The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan recently, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham relayed that Downs wanted to play in the Arizona this fall even after a long and full season with Worcester.

Abraham also indicated that the Sox view Downs “as an up-the-middle, impact player” who is capable of driving the baseball while playing sound defense and running the bases.

“He’s an all-around player,” Abraham said, “and that’s really exciting for us.”

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Norm Hall / MLB Photos via Getty Images)