BOSTON — Jeter Downs was rated the No. 1 Red Sox prospect by MLB Pipeline shortly after joining the 2020 trade that sent perennial All-Star Mookie Betts to the Dodgers.
The Red Sox certainly bought into Downs’ lofty status, which is why they finalized the controversial trade once the shortstop was included in the package by Los Angeles. However, Downs failed to live up to his promise for three years in Boston’s agricultural system.
“It was tough,” Red Sox baseball chief Chaim Bloom said. “The fact that he was in a position where we considered him and picked him to be nominated, I think, speaks to some of the difficulties we had in getting him on the right path.
“I still think there are a lot of physical abilities there, but we haven’t been able to unlock them consistently. Admittedly, he’s still young and there’s no reason to dismiss him, but he’s obviously had a hard time.
What Downs has struggled with the most is hitting. He hit .190 at Triple-A Worcester in 2021, and averaged just .197 at the same affiliate last season.
The 24-year-old made his MLB debut in 2022, when the Red Sox were decimated by injuries, and he had the momentous moment of producing his first career hit – a tied RBI single – in the bottom of the ranking. ninth against the Yankees. A few minutes later, he scored the kickoff.
In 14 games, Downs, an inside midfielder, hit just .154 for Boston with one home run and four RBIs.
“I’m glad he got to step into the big leagues with us, glad he got to hang out with us here at Fenway, help us win a big game,” Bloom said. “It was a lot of fun for a lot of people, but obviously we weren’t able to allow him to achieve that success as consistently as anyone would like with Jeter.”
Bloom was asked if the DFA was harder to swallow given he was one of three pieces that came on for Betts, joining Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong, who are still with the club.
“I don’t think it changes the decision because at the end of the day we have a responsibility to every player in this organization to make the right decision by each of them when we make decisions for the organization,” said Bloom. “There’s no doubt that he played an important role in a really important exchange, and that we didn’t bring him to the level that we expected, but at the end of the day, we want to do good by all our players and the organization.”
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