Jeter Downs breaks out with three hits

May 16th, 2021

Jeter Downs busted out of his cold spell with a big performance in Worcester’s 10-5 win over Syracuse on Saturday.

The Red Sox No. 2 prospect launched a towering home run and recorded his first three-hit performance of the season, finishing 3-for-4, including a double, three RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Downs, the main piece in the Mookie Betts trade between Boston and the Dodgers, had scuffled in the batter’s box through the first two weeks of the season. The speedy middle infielder started the year 6-for-34, hitting .176 coming into Saturday with just one extra-base hit, a double on May 7.

“He’s been working really hard with our hitting coaches and nobody is exempt from thinking too much when you start to struggle,” said Paul Abbott, the WooSox pitching coach. “I think he just needed to get comfortable and get his mind right, and then we’ll see some things that we’re expecting to see from him.”

The 22-year-old’s breakout day got off to a hot start when he crushed his first homer of the year in the bottom of the second; a high-flying solo shot off Syracuse starter Jerad Eickhoff that cut the WooSox deficit to one run.

His second hit was a single that deflected off third basemen Cody Bohanek’s glove, and then he used his wheels to create chaos on the basepaths. Downs went to second on the deflection and caused an errant throw from Bohanek, which scored the game-tying run and moved Downs to third. He scored two batters later, on Jack Lopez’s RBI double.

“It’s a big weapon, when you can turn a single into a double or a double into a triple,” said Abbott about Downs’ speed. “He’s a very exciting young player and it’s just a matter of him getting going so we can see all that excitement he can bring.”

Downs’ second double of the season capped a five-run seventh inning for the WooSox. Red Sox No. 3 prospect Jarren Duran started the inning off with an RBI double to right field to break a 5-5 tie. Following a run-scoring sac fly from third basemen Yairo Muñoz and an RBI single from outfielder Marcus Wilson, Downs drove a ball into the right-center gap.

Two runs scored on the liner that one-hopped the wall in right-center. He almost ended up on third but was thrown out by Mets catcher Deivy Grullón trying to swipe the extra base bag after the throw went home.

“He’s just an ultra-talented player,” said Abbott. “When you got two guys in your lineup like Duran and Downs, that’s pretty exciting to see. These last three games have been an example of what we can see from them.”

The Colombia native raised his slash line to .237/.326/.368 following the seven-total-base night. In 2019, Downs showed the power and speed mix he put on display Saturday, racking up 35 doubles, 24 homers, and 24 stolen bases in 119 games.

Downs owns a career OPS of .813 over 1311 Minor League plate appearances and has swiped 73 bases in his four-year pro career. With an MLB ETA of 2021, Downs could form a formidable middle infield with the red-hot Xander Bogaerts sometime in the near future.