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2019 Dodgers Top 100 Prospects: No. 9, 2B/SS Jeter Downs
Dustin Nosler 03/20/2019 2019 Prospects, Jeter Downs274 Comments
Jeter Downs (Via)
Next up in the Top 100 prospect countdown is one of the newest prospects in the organization who was acquired for a fan favorite in Yasiel Puig.
9. Jeter Downs
Type of hitter: Fly ball despite size, few ground balls, need more liners
Acquired: Trade with Reds December 2018; 1st round Competitive Balance Round A (No. 32 overall) of 2017 MLB Draft, Monsignor Edward Pace HS (Fla.), $1,822,500 signing bonus
Physical description: Wiry, sneaky strong, athletic build, well-rounded
Strengths: Above-average bat speed, already elevates, developing power, advanced for age
Weaknesses: Lack of upper-level experience, might not stick at shortstop, “only” average speed
Key statistics: .257/.351/.402, 9.9 BB%, 19.7 K%, .145 ISO
Summary: Chosen nine spots after the Dodgers popped Jeren Kendall in 2017, Downs was the Reds’ competitive balance selection and got a quick assignment to Billings of the Pioneer League. He got bumped up to the Midwest League in his second professional season and handled himself pretty well. In a notoriously tough league for hitters, Downs posted some solid offensive numbers, including some surprising pop. He also stole 37 bases in 47 attempts.
Downs combines above-average bat speed with an elevated swing path to produce a high number of fly balls for a guy who looks like he’d more ground ball/line drive-oriented. He has a relatively quiet setup from the right side. He doesn’t have much of a leg kick or stride, but is still able to generate good bat speed that results in loud contact. He’s almost a little too fly ball happy, though, considering he doesn’t project to hit for much more than average power at his peak (maybe 55-grade if he continues to develop). And it’s virtually all pull-side power. He could stand to level out the swing a bit to grain some more line drives at the expense of some fly balls. But with the Dodgers’ hitting philosophy in the minors, you can see hwy they targeted Downs in trade talks with the Reds. He also displays advanced plate discipline, which should help him as he climbs the minor-league ladder.
He’s athletic enough to handle shortstop, but there are two reasons he might have to move off shortstop: His arm and his range, the former of which being a bigger issue than the latter. If he does move to the pivot, he could be an above-average defender at second base. He’ll probably stick at shortstop for the time being, but he’ll likely have to move. Some have said there’s a non-zero chance he could end up in center field, but that doesn’t seem terribly likely at this stage. As a runner, he has average speed, but don’t the 37 stolen bases fool you; Downs doesn’t project to be much of a stolen base threat at the MLB level. He might get to 10-15 stolen bases, but efficiency will be more his game.
Downs could be the Dodgers’ second baseman of the future, especially if he continues to show offensive upside he has in his first two professional seasons. If not, he could be a second-division starter or a utility infielder with pop. He should spend ample time in High-A with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes this season.
Jeter Downs Spray Chart
Jeter Downs Hit Spray Chart
2018 Ranking: NR2019 Location: High-A Rancho CucamongaETA: 2022
Next Up: Prospect No. 8