Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Jeter Downs

downs

As some fans of the Dodgers are still sorting out their thoughts over the exodus of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood, many are focusing on the salary dumps while overlooking the quality of prospects that Los Angeles received in return. Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray are not your typical blue-chip, superstar prospects, but at the same time, both have the tools to make a big league impacts sooner than many think.

Ironically, there have been reports that Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers were eyeing both Downs and Gray long before they were even drafted.

Downs could be the real steal of the deal. First and foremost, he’s a right-handed hitting infielder who can comfortably handle the duties at both shortstop and second base. And, although his big league ETA is definitely a few years down the road, he may be the answer to the problem of the Dodgers seeking out a bonafide, righty hitting second baseman every single winter in the free agent and trade markets.

As you may have suspected, Downs is named after legendary shortstop Derek Jeter. He was chosen by the Reds as a supplementary pick—32nd overall—in the 2017 draft.

Born in Colombia, the 20-year-old Miami resident has always been applauded for his quickness, speed, and range on defense, but many pundits question his ability to productively handle the bat—especially in the power department—to the degree that it could prevent him from finding success in the majors. However, although his first full year in professional ball was not overwhelmingly eye-opening in terms of hitting, his overall numbers weren’t bad in the least.

In the months following the draft, Downs put in his time in the Pioneer Rookie League, but in 2018 he settled into his role with the Low-A Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League. There, he slashed .257/.351/.402 with 23 doubles, 13 long balls and 37 stolen bases over 120 games, hitting primarily out of the three-hole. More impressively, he tallied 52 walks, which boosted his OBP to almost 100 points more than his actual average.

Interestingly, Downs hits southpaws much better than right-handed pitching. He had 121 plate appearances against lefties last year, hitting .310/.425/.440 against them with 17 walks and just 13 strikeouts. That’s a 14% walk rate to go along with an 11% strikeout rate.

Defensively, he played 73 games at the keystone and 43 at shortstop last season in Dayton. In terms of fielding, he committed half as many errors at second, 7, than he did at short, 14.

Many scouts believe that his future is at second base because of his size. His arm is adequate at short, but by no means does he possess the superior arm strength of somebody like Francisco Lindor, Manny Machado or Corey Seager. Because of his speed and quickness, some pundits feel that he could even make a career in center field, which correlates with the defensive philosophies of Friedman.

His coaches in high school and on the Cincy farm have always praised his attitude, work ethic and presence on the diamond.

In the moments after the trade became official, MLB Pipeline inserted Downs into the No. 7 spot in the Dodgers prospect rankings.

His estimated major league ETA is 2021.

 

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72 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Jeter Downs

    1. Alvarez. Not one of Andrew’s finer decisions. $16 million signing bonus. I think I remember something about every dollar over $2M was taxed at 100%. There were a lot of signings back then. Where are those guys? A lot of money down the crapper. Oh well. It’s only money. We got plenty of that, right?

      I figured Jeter was going to be flipped. Do I have that wrong?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Me stirring the pot and throwing cold water on the trade. I think this kid and Gray are both trade fodder. Dodgers loaded with middle infielders and prospects at those position’s so they would be dealing from a position of strength. Bet if the Kluber deal goes through, at least one of those guys and Verdugo head to the Indians.

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  2. There’s only one way I can see Friedman making up for this trade with Cincinnati. First you have to get Corey Kluber now no questions asked. You have put yourself over the line of commitment now to go all in so he is a must. Next, you’ve got to sign DJ LeMahieu for his on base ability. And last you have to figure out RF. I know they want to be balanced now so does that mean you trade for Castellanos or somehow keep Verdugo out of the deal with Indians to play RF? Or do you just take the plunge and bank it all on Harper? I don’t have an answer there. One last year of Puig and getting nothing in return for him is better than the return we got.

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  3. Well then Verdugo has to go bebcause will never be that power bat. But you sacrifice defense and an arm that isn’t Puig’s but is extremely good in RF.

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  4. I’m beginning to think that the reason AF has been trying to move Puig for the past couple of years is not statistics related. I think we all agree that he’s matured a lot in the last few years and he’s obviously shown he’s willing to take instruction (thank you Turner Ward). Yasiel is a very upbeat guy and no longer considered a bad clubhouse guy but I think his over the top personality (and I don’t mean that in a negative way) was beginning to wear on the other guys. Kike’s approach to being upbeat is a positive, but I think Puig’s may have been a bit too much after six years of it. Totally unsubstantiated on my part so I could be 100% wrong here. I think Friedman just decided it was time to remove the Puig noise (both literally and figuratively) from the equation.

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    1. How do statistics measure throwing late to home while ignoring your cutoff men? Also, is there a way to measure ignoring the coaches while running on the basepaths? Especially after a number of sitdowns in the skipper’s office? Apparently, Friedman has spreadsheets for all that stuff. And math nerds to plug in the numbers.

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  5. I don’t doubt Puig could wear people down with that personality’s I would probably want to kill him too if I was around him that much. It just seems you could have gotten something more substantial that what you did.

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  6. Something doesn’t add up for me if anyone can enlighten me. What was the point of the salary dump trade if you intended to turn right around and sign Harper and still blue over the tax line? It doesn’t make sense. You could absorb Kluber now but no way Harper.

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  7. I think catcher is the most obvious way to go cheap. He isn’t going to go cheap on a SP because he isn’t looking to pick up a #4 starter. I’m guessing it’s Kluber or bust and that won’t be cheap. RF – if you consider signing Pollock instead of Harper going cheap, I guess you could consider that. Catcher – can always sign a Maldonado type for relatively little expense.

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  8. Something to ponder: Our team has been to the World Series for the last two years and the playoffs for the last six. However, It’s quite possible that 5 and possibly up to 7 of last year’s starting 9 on opening day will have been replaced on opening day 2019. Taylor, Seager, Puig, Kike, Belli, Kemp, Grandal, Forsythe, Kershaw. It’s highly unlikely that both Kike and CT3 will be starters on opening day (and possibly neither) and we still aren’t sure that Seager will be ready for the opening bell. Damn that Friedman, same old same old.

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  9. An argument could be made (I did already) that Verdugo would be the better defensive right fielder Alex. Don’t forget he was a pitcher with a mid 90s fastball. He can do something Puig had difficulty with – throw a bullet 1’ over the cutoff man’s head. Puig didn’t hit that many home runs. 108 in 6 years. Verdugo could do that, or at least come close. Just teach him launch angle.

    I see no reason to be deliberate about staying under the cap. If we could get Realmuto, Kluber and Harper wouldn’t it be worth going over $206M? If Harper goes to NY, to dump Hill on the Yankees and take Stanton might be even better. It’s only money. And we have plenty of that, right?

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    1. I do not think Harper is on the radar if he keeps wanting 10 years. All I have read says that the Dodgers will not do a deal for more than 6. And why would they open space in payroll only to go over it by signing Harper? Makes no sense at all. I think other moves are more likely than Harper. Toles is only # 1 on the depth chart because Ol Andy is not done yet. I doubt very seriously that he is there come April 1.

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  10. Dennis, they have a lot of guys in the lower classes at lower A and rookie ball. Downs is listed on the Great Lakes Loons roster. Beyond Lux, Robinson and Estevez, there is not much at AA and AAA. Peters is the only middle infielder listed on OKC’s roster at this point. But that usually fills up in February. There will be some minor league signings no doubt between now and the opening of spring. Harper is not the main target according to most of the reports. The main focus at this point is Kluber, Those talks have definitely gotten more heated. The Cubs told Harper that before he signs any deal to come back and talk to the Cubs. Most seem to think the Cubs do not have the flexibility in their payroll to take him on. They might still pull the trigger on that and worry about the payroll later. Remember his best buddy, Bryant is a Cub. Yankees looking like the favorite for Machado. Dodgers seem to be more interested in either Castellanos or Pollock at this point. Most have pointed out the fact that they are way too LH right now. I also am believing that Verdugo will be part of any trade that brings Kluber to LA.

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  11. Harper has a better OPS than Kemp, or Puig, against LHP, so it doesn’t matter which side of the plate he hits from, he doesn’t need to be platooned, if we sign him. Jeff you’re the only one in the media with the hanninger rumors, but it is nice to dream of. He would solve the RH batting problem, and keep us under the CBT, but the prospect cost would be staggering. We can get kluber cheaper than we could get hanninger.

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    1. Actually, it’s not a rumor Keith, it’s a wish, but sometimes wishes come true. One thing for sure, we absolutely don’t have enough prospects to get Haniger, Kluber and Realmuto. Probably not even two of them, but we shall see. Here’s another idea that I came up with today while discussing the bullpen on another site. We should seriously look into signing Greg Holland. He had a horrendous first half with St. Louis last year but once they traded him to Washington he was downright spectacular. An ERA and WHIP of below 1.00 and over 10 k’s per 9 innings. If we could get him on an incentive-laden contract for 1 year I would jump on it.

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  12. I think it’s clear they are orders to stay under the tax line until I’m proven otherwise so I’m going to say Harper is out. Unless you sign Harper or trade for Stanton or Castellanos you won’t replicate the power you lost in Puig or Kemp so I say go the other way. Trade for Kluber and his team friendly contract to gives us a 1-3 in Kershaw, Kluberabd Buehler that can truly rival Houston in a playoff series. Sign DJ LeMahieu to play 2B everyday and give you an on base guy with gold glove defense up the middle. Then go get AJ Pollack to hit leadoff and play RF allowing Kike and Taylor to be your 2 IF/OF utility guys. After that if you want to really go for it package Ruiz up with 2-3 more good prospects and go get Realmuto to recapture a little of that lost power. You could do all these things and still realistically stay under the line with the tradeoff being you will have to cannibalize the top of the farm system. This also allows you to go after Arenado next year who I think is twice the player Harper is.
    1. Pollack
    2. Seager
    3. Turner
    4. Bellinger
    5. Realmuto
    6. Muncy
    7. LeMahieu
    8. Pederson
    9. Pitcher

    Kershaw
    Kluber
    Buehler
    Ryu
    Hill/Maeda

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    1. I’m assuming that Verdugo was part of the Kluber deal? If this was our opening day lineup I wouldn’t be all that upset. One change I would make would be to start Toles in place of Joc until he shows he doesn’t deserve it.

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    1. If I’m going to give up Ruiz, I’m going to insist on a 2-3 day window to extend Realmuto. If I can’t get that done (either a Marlin or a player refusal), I don’t do the deal. Smith, May, Peters, Downs, Gray. No Ruiz, no Lux. Other than that I would discuss changes to the 5 I had listed. I’m sure that if we substituted Verdugo for Peters we could get the deal done but I’m just not sure if I do that for 2 years of Realmuto. Of course, I’m not even considering the fact that we may have had to use these same guys to get Kluber. Oh well.

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      1. You’d be giving up a little power but adding speed and onbase ability. The wildcard would be LeMahieu because he’s got batting title talent and probably more power in there somewhere too.

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    1. I think we stand a good chance of getting Arenado next year, assuming Andrew wants him and is willing to pay the price. JT could move to first for however long he stays here. If Turner keeps producing at this level I would definitely try to keep him around for a few more years. If Arenado doesn’t work out, we could always go after Goldschmidt. I’m thinking he’ll test free agency even if he ultimately goes back to the Cards. He’s three years older than Arenado but I would still consider him if we couldn’t get Nolan.

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      1. I doubt St Louis let’s Goldy get to the open market. Turner to first for the back half of his contract makes too much sense almost because he’s always going to hit even if he’s not hitting 30HR a year.

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  13. It’s Pollock and he’s already 31 with a history of not playing a full year. He’s only done it once in 7 years.

    Hill and Pederson make about $20 million. Pederson should be able to get us enough in prospects to get somebody. Maybe he could lead the Kluber deal. Rich Hill is good for 135 and 3.6 ERA. 4.0 ERA in the AL. The Yankees would take that.

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    1. If you trade Pederson too then you have to fill LF and RF. You took the outfield from a strength and surplus to a weakness and being razor thin.

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      1. Razor thin? I think an outfield of Harper, Bellinger and Verdugo with Toles, Hernandez and Taylor still around is hardly thin. Even if Verdugo goes we still have a plethora of good outfielders.

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    1. It’s Pollock.

      We just got 2 good prospects. Pederson could give us 2,more and Hill 2 more. We trade $20 million. If we get Kluber, Realmuto and Harper we won’t miss any of the 5 ML players we would have sent out. Not sure how the $ shakes out but if we are over $206 so what. Look at that roster.

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  14. Don’t get to crazy on us scoop there is no way we’re getting Realmuto, kluber, and Harper, you’re sounding like a yankee fan now. I’ll be ecstatic if we get one of those three, I don’t care which one.

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    1. I know you’re right, but it IS possible. 2 out 3 would be cool. If I could choose I’d take Kluber and Realmuto, Harper goes to NY and we take Stanton off their hands for lower prospects or Hill.

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  15. It seems the marlins asking price is too high, Dennis, are you willing to pay that price, or do you think the price for Realmuto is going to come down a little?

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  16. I’d give Miami Ruiz, Stripling and DJ Peters. anything more than that and it’s really not worth it. Send Verdugo, Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray and someone like Edwin Rios to Cleveland for Kluber. With the way free agency is right now it’s a buyers market and you may get some guys for a little discount. I wouldn’t be surprised if you can get both LeMahieu and Pollack for deals around 3 years $45 million. Normally I figured they would get about 4 years $70 million.

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      1. I don’t see any way that LeMahieu gets anywhere near 45 mil. 2/18 sounds about right to me. I think fans value him quite a bit higher than GM’s do. As for Pollock, he’s really hard to figure because of all the injuries. I think GM’s will start at a number and then start subtracting based on how much time they figure he’ll spend on the DL. Those calculations could vary quite a bit from one team to the next so nothing would surprise me with Pollock. One thing I can tell you, he won’t do as well as Cain did last year.

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  17. If there ever was a time to strip the farm system down and go for a run it’s roght now in this 3 year Kershaw window with Buehler coming into his prime. You can trade the top half that is within 1-2 years of being in the big leagues and get a couple real stars then build the farm again with the young kids.

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  18. I was listening to Mlb radio, while out doing some last minute shopping, and they were reporting the cubs want Harper to talk to them before he signs, they are going to try to shed some salary. How the heck could they ever move heywords salary. Supposedly.

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  19. I’m not in on Pollock. He’s good, but he’s past his prime. We don’t need a centerfielder, we need a catcher and a second baseman. If a starter like Kluber, 200 innings and team friendly contract, is available and we can get him, then he’ll yes. If Friedman actually wants Harper I think that’s a good thing. It doesn’t seem like him, but, a .900 OPS player in his prime? And he wants to play here? We whiffed on Stanton, is this a second chance?

    I still believe we can get all 3. It will take a lot to do it, but I believe the first steps have been taken.

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    1. With all of the things we’d like to do, is LeMahieu really that much better than Taylor? I’d rather spend the money on something else. If Taylor shows he can’t handle being the every day second baseman, I guarantee you someone decent will be available at the deadline.

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    1. I’d rather not Keith, but yeah, I’d take a defensive minded catcher until Ruiz is ready.

      Your point is a good one Jefe. I’m fine with either Taylor or Hernandez full time at second. They are both utility guys and as such I feel they are somewhat redundant, but I think either could handle the job. Maybe trade one, keep the other as utility and use the acquired prospects to help land Realmuto or Kluber.

      I don’t think Castellanos is a fit here. Maybe if he worked on his D, but he has DH written all over him. Maybe he’s part of a 3 way?

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  20. If we see the Dodgers move Rich Hill and his contract in another salary dump I’ll beluevevthey are going for Harper but right now i just don’t see it and still stay below $206 million.

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