CINCINNATI -- Using their competitive-balance pick at No. 32 overall in the MLB Draft, the Reds selected a shortstop with a fitting name of one of the best to play the game. It was Jeter Downs from Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, Fla.Ranked as the No. 37
CINCINNATI -- Using their competitive-balance pick at No. 32 overall in the MLB Draft, the Reds selected a shortstop with a fitting name of one of the best to play the game. It was Jeter Downs from Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Ranked as the No. 37 prospect in the Draft by MLBPipeline.com, the 18-year-old Downs was born in St. Andres, Colombia, and was indeed named after former Yankees great shortstop Derek Jeter.
"When he came into the Major Leagues [in 1995], he was the name. He was the thing. He was shining," Downs explained. "It was 'Jeter this, Jeter that.' It was actually my Mom's idea. My brother got Jerry from my Dad [Jerry Sr.]. It was my Mom's turn to pick a name since I was a second child. She just fell in love with Jeter and the way he played, his humbleness, how he carried himself on and off the field.
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"That's how I pride myself. I try to do the right thing on and off the field, whether it's baseball-related or out with friends or helping somebody out on the street. It's kind of ironic that I have the name because that's exactly the person I model myself after."
Also ironically, the Reds had the opportunity to draft Derek Jeter with the fifth overall pick in the 1992 Draft but passed on him to take outfielder Chad Mottola. Jeter was taken sixth by the Yankees and became a superstar, while Mottola never really materialized after he reached the big leagues. But they didn't pass on this Jeter.
The Draft continues Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
According to Draft scouting reports, Downs is viewed as a solid defensive player at shortstop, with a slightly above-average arm.
"We've seen Jeter. He's played in almost everything," Reds vice president of amateur scouting Chris Buckley said. "A young shortstop from Miami who is very advanced with his bat. Even though he's in a high-school uniform, he's a little more like a college player. He's very, very advanced."
Downs has a baseball family. His father played professionally in Colombia, and his brother was taken by the Red Sox in the 15th round of the 2015 Draft. His father, who currently works for Carnival Cruise Lines, always planned on bringing his kids to America to play ball.
"His dream was always to bring us over here and let us chase our dreams and work hard and one day be at this point," Downs said. "This is just the starting point. Now I've just got to work hard every single day to make it to the big leagues."
Downs has a commitment to play for the University of Miami, but appeared very excited about starting a professional career.
"I've been dreaming about this since I was 10 years old," Downs said. "It has finally come, and it still feels so surreal."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.