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Downs has chance to 'really impact' Red Sox

Middle-infield prospect invited to big league camp
@IanMBrowne
February 11, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox fans will get a treat during Spring Training as the club has added newly acquired top prospect Jeter Downs as a non-roster invitee to camp. The power-hitting middle infielder is rated the No. 44 prospect by MLB Pipeline and vaults to No. 1 among

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox fans will get a treat during Spring Training as the club has added newly acquired top prospect Jeter Downs as a non-roster invitee to camp.

The power-hitting middle infielder is rated the No. 44 prospect by MLB Pipeline and vaults to No. 1 among Red Sox prospects. The Sox received Downs, outfielder Alex Verdugo and Minor League catcher Connor Wong (also invited to Spring Training) in the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers.

The 21-year-old Downs is believed to be about a year away from making an impact in the Major Leagues, but the Red Sox and their fans will get a chance to see his talent up close in the early weeks of Spring Training.

"Jeter Downs, a middle infielder who's a good athlete, a really baseball player who [last] year took a major step forward offensively," said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. "And digging into that performance as our group did, we were really excited by the strides that he made and think he's got a chance to be a complete player that can really impact us. Again, a great kid who plays the game with really good feel and calmness, someone we feel will be really comfortable in the moment."

A right-handed hitter, Downs spent his first two professional seasons with the Reds, the team that took him as the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 Draft. In December 2018, he was dealt to the Dodgers as part of a package that included Yasiel Puig. Downs split last season between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, producing an .888 OPS and compiling 35 doubles, 24 homers, 24 steals, 86 RBIs and 92 runs.

The presence of Wong at camp will also be intriguing to fans and will serve as a vital time for the Red Sox to further evaluate their new addition.

"These are two guys we're really excited to acquire," said Bloom. "Both of them we think have the potential to really help us at the big league level. Obviously there's still some development ahead of both of them."

Wong hit .349 in 40 games after being moved up to Double-A at the end of 2019. For the season, he belted 24 homers go with 82 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. In addition to catcher, he can also play second and third.

"Connor Wong also has made a lot of strides offensively," said Bloom. "He's always had a very good offensive approach, has come into some power. He's a really good athlete behind the plate, so good that he's played the infield, second and third before. And those guys are hard to find. And a lot of times, when you have really good athletes behind the plate, they can sometimes exceed what you expect of them. And so far, he's progressed really well."

The Sox also added catcher Juan Centeno, outfielder César Puello and right-handed pitcher Denyi Reyes as non-roster invitees.

Here is a full breakdown of the Spring Training roster with the first official workout set to take place on Wednesday.

BOSTON RED SOX NON-ROSTER INVITEES (26)

Pitchers (11): R.J. Alvarez, Trevor Hildenberger, Tanner Houck, Brian Johnson, Mike Kickham, Robinson Leyer, Bryan Mata, Daniel McGrath, Bobby Poyner, Denyi Reyes, Domingo Tapia

Catchers (4): Roldani Baldwin, Jett Bandy, Juan Centeno, Connor Wong

Infielders (7): Chad De La Guerra, Jeter Downs, Marco Hernández, Tommy Joseph, Nick Longhi, Josh Ockimey, Jantzen Witte

Outfielders (4): John Andreoli, Rusney Castillo, Jarren Duran, César Puello

BOSTON RED SOX 40-MAN ROSTER (39)

Pitchers (22): Yoan Aybar, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Austin Brice, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Hall, Kyle Hart, Heath Hembree, Darwinzon Hernandez, Chris Mazza, Josh Osich, Martín Pérez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Mike Shawaryn, Jeffrey Springs, Josh Taylor, Hector Velázquez, Marcus Walden, Ryan Weber, Brandon Workman

Catchers (2): Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez

Infielders (10): Jonathan Arauz, Xander Bogaerts, C.J. Chatham, Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Tzu-Wei Lin, Mitch Moreland, Dustin Pedroia, José Peraza

Outfielders (5): Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Alex Verdugo, Marcus Wilson

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.