Originally posted at Dodgers Nation on May 7, 2019.
When the Dodgers made the big Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp trade in December, Jeter Downs become a big person of interest. Downs was one of the two high rated prospects the Dodgers got in return, the other being Josiah Gray.
Now that Downs has had a month to settle into being the a member of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes we had the opportunity to speak with him.
Jeter Downs was born in San Andres, Columbia on July 27, 1998. His family moved to the United States when he was five years old and they landed in Florida to give the Downs’ kids more opportunities. Jeter is fluent in both English and Spanish. Downs lived close to Marlins Park and used to attend many games in the nosebleed seats.
Yes, he is named after Derek Jeter, the Yankees all-time great shortstop. Downs grew up playing all over the field but his dad, smartly, had him stop pitching when he was around twelve years old (editorial note: with the amount of arm injuries to young players it was very smart of his dad to keep him off of the mound). When he was drafted by the Reds it was a tough decision between college and professional ball. At the end of the day he is pleased with his choice of signing with the Reds.
The big trade that brought Jeter Downs to the Dodgers was surprising as he was a rising prospect with the Reds organization. He was actually notified by his dad of the trade as he was asleep when the trade happened. Jeter notices that there are some decent differences between the Reds and the Dodgers organizations (not stating either is good or bad) as they definitely do things differently. He has focused on getting to know all his teammates no matter their background. I see leadership in him whether his attitude towards knowing his teammates but also the way he is at shortstop.
He’s been spending the first month with the Quakes getting used to being in Southern California as the weather has been good but, as most say, traffic is a problem. Since they get to Rancho Cucamonga right from Spring Training then start games right away there hasn’t been a lot of time to go and try too many restaurants or much else. The Quakes started their first week on the road in Northern California so it has been a bit chaotic for most players.
#Dodgers reportedly acquiring Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray & Homer Bailey from the #Reds for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp & Alex Wood. Downs and Gray are Nos. 7 & 20 on the @Reds' Top 30 Prospects list: https://t.co/FqakPMq2aZ pic.twitter.com/qkdEiwz8ON
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 21, 2018
Jeter Downs goes downtown. Twice.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 5, 2019
Jeter Downs entered the 2019 season as a 20 year old entering his second full professional season (his first year was partial as it started in June) at high-A ball with the Quakes. Downs doesn’t just focus on just one aspect of his game as he strives to constantly improve his overall game. According to MiLB he has above average skills in each area (“Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50″ on a scale of 20-80). He wasn’t concerned with his overall statistics this year as he feels things are going well. He likes his at-bats so far and feels the statistics will reflect that soon. Downs starts most games at shortstop and bats in the top third of the order.
As the season progresses I expect him to continue to show of all his tools. He has good not great speed, but is an excellent baserunner and steals bases very well. I expect his power to continue to blossom and would not be surprised if he ends up with 20 homers. He’s a steady player in the field and takes charge despite being the youngest position player on the team. I expect him to stay most of the season at high-A but he could be in for a promotion depending on what they do with Gavin Lux or Omar Estevez at Tulsa in AA.
This tweet from Jon Heyman is my guess of why the Dodgers targeted acquiring Jeter Downs from the Reds. He has talent across the board with excellent leadership capabilities. It’s a bonus that he is fluent in English and Spanish as he can be a unifying member of the team. Dodger fans should be excited about a prospect like Jeter Downs. There is a lot of upside for him and I expect him to be knocking on the big league door in the second half of the 2021 season.
I want to thank Jeter Downs for taking the time to be interviewed and for Mike Lindskog, the Director of Public Relations for the Quakes, for setting it up.
One NL scout on new Dodger prospect: “Jeter Downs a stud….don’t care what he is ranked…future all-star.”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 21, 2018