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)

How did Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski fare in major-league debut?

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski made his major-league debut in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

Serving as Boston’s 27th man for the twin bill and donning the No. 73, Winckowski allowed four earned runs on six hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over three innings of work.

Both of those Baltimore runs came in the top of the third. After working his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and recording his first career punchout in the second, Winckowski ran into trouble in the third. The right-hander yielded a leadoff single to Austin Hays and a seven-pitch walk to Anthony Santander. The right-hander then got the first two outs of the frame before giving up an RBI single to Ramon Urias and three-run home run to Rougned Odor.

Odor’s 410-foot blast came off a 1-0, 93.8 mph sinker from Winckowski that was at the bottom of the zone. It gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead and played a key role in Winckowski’s day ending after just three innings. He was relieved by left-hander Austin Davis and ultimately took the loss as Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 4-2.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 62 (36 strikes), the 23-year-old hurler threw 29 sinkers, 16 sliders, 16 four-seam fastballs, and one changeup. He induced seven swings-and-misses between those four pitches while hovering around 92-97 mph with his fastball.

Winckowski, who turns 24 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization.

Since he served as the club’s 27th man, Winckowski will more than likely be optioned back down to Triple-A Worcester following the conclusion of Saturday’s night cap.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski will officially make major-league debut against Orioles on Saturday

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski will make his major-league debut and start Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

Winckowski, who is already in Boston and has a locker in the Red Sox’ clubhouse, told reporters (including The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey) that he received word of the team’s decision on Friday and will have eight or nine people on-hand to watch his debut in-person.

The 23-year-old right-hander has made seven starts for Triple-A Worcester this season, posting a 3.13 ERA and 2.80 FIP to go along with 34 strikeouts to six walks over 31 2/3 innings of work. His last outing for the WooSox came on Sunday, so he is lined up to pitch on regular rest this weekend.

Among International League pitchers who have at least 30 innings under their belt to this point in the year, Winckowski ranks ninth in strikeout rate (27.9%), eighth in swinging strike rate (13.6%) sixth in walk rate (4.9%), fifth in batting average against (.183), first in WHIP (0.85), 13th in ERA, second in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.11), per FanGraphs.

Originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Estero High School, Winckowski was dealt to the Mets in the same trade that sent left-hander Steven Matz to Toronto last January. Less than two weeks later, the Florida native was involved in a three-team trade that sent him to the Red Sox and outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals.

Now in his second full year with the Sox, Winckowski is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization. The 6-foot-4, 215 pound hurler works with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-90s fastball, a changeup, and a slider. He projects as either a back-end starter or reliever in the future.

Winckowski, who was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November, is slated to become the first Red Sox player to make their big-league debut this season.

Fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi is expected to get the start in the first game on Saturday afternoon (12:10 p.m. eastern time). Winckowski would then get the starting nod for the night cap (6:10 p.m. ET), likely serving as the Sox’ 27th man by doing so.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox Option Robert Stock to Pawtucket in Order to Make Room on Roster for Kyle Hart

As you may already be aware, left-hander Kyle Hart will be making his major-league debut for the Red Sox on Thursday evening. In order to make that happen, however, the Sox had to option right-hander Robert Stock to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Stock, 30, was initially recalled by Boston on August 11, a little over two weeks after he was claimed off waivers from the Phillies on July 27.

In his brief first go-around with the Red Sox, the University of Southern California product allowed one unearned run on two hits, three walks, and three strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings of relief this past Tuesday against the Rays.

Stock threw 42 pitches, just 18 of which were strikes, in his Red Sox debut and topped out at 98.9 mph with his four-seam fastball. It would not be a surprise to see the flamethrower up with the big-league club once again sometime in the near future.

As for Hart, the former 19th-round draft pick out of the University of Indiana will be making his long-awaited major-league debut Thursday exactly four years after making his first professional start for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox on August 13, 2016.

The 27-year-old southpaw had been limited to just working in intrasquad games against his teammates at McCoy Stadium since last month, but he will now have the chance to make a strong first impression against the Rays at Fenway Park.

For Hart, command over velocity will be key.

“If you’re not dialed in, locating, then for me, I’m probably not going to be in the game very long if I’m not locating because that’s almost not an option for me,” he told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith on the Fenway Rundown podcast. “But if you’re not locating, then you have to attack with whatever you have that day in the zone. And that kind of goes with trusting your catcher and trusting your defense. We’ve got a pretty darn good defense up here. When in doubt, I want to try to let them make a play. My philosophy is pretty simple on pitching. I want to get a guy out on the first three or four pitches. So I’m trying to miss their barrel early on. When I get to two strikes, I’m trying to miss the bat. That’s kind of how I think about it. If I get to two strikes, I’m going to give you my best punch-out pitch and miss your whole bat. Early in the count, I want to miss your barrel and get you out.”

Hart will take the mound for the Red Sox for the very first time at approximately 4:30 p.m. eastern time on Thursday. The series finale against Tampa Bay will be broadcast on NESN and WEEI.