Grading the Prospects: Looking At Boston’s Return For Mookie Betts (Jeter Downs & More)

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After the original three-team trade sending Mookie Betts to Los Angeles fell apart, the Red Sox and Dodgers were able to rework the trade on their own (and the Dodgers and Twins subsequently have made a separate trade).  With Alex Verdugo remaining the centerpiece, Boston is also acquiring a pair of prospects.  Let’s take a look at how each currently looks:

Jeter Downs – Second Baseman/Shortstop
ETA – 2021
Current Grade – B

Downs spent the bulk of 2019 at High-A (479 PA), with  cup of coffee at Double-A (56 PA), showing an intriguing blend of power and speed with 24 HR (as well as 35 doubles and 4 triples) and 24 SB.  There are questions as to his ultimate upside, as scouting reports seem to indicate that he doesn’t go 100% at all times at the plate.

He posted an 11.2% walk rate overall last season, and while we need to monitor his 11.6% SwStr% there appears to be potential.  At worst he could be a 15/15 player who should fit somewhere on the infield (thus far he’s seen time at 2B and SS), but what if he was consistently focused?  He may not have the speed to steal much more than 20 bases annually, but could he develop into a 25/20 player with a solid average?

The upside is there to reach those types of levels, and while he’s not there yet it’s easy to envision him flourishing at 21-years old (he’ll turn 22 in July). Currently a “B” grade, he has the upside of reaching B+ (or if it all comes together an A-) by year’s end.

Connor Wong – Catcher
ETA – 2021
Current Grade – C

Wong showed power as he split time between High-A (15 HR in 302 PA) and Double-A (9 HR over 163 PA).  However that came at a price, as he posted a 30.8% strikeout rate behind a 16.2% SwStr%.  Considering he played most of the year at 23-years old it’s a very concerning number, and one that could get worse as he continues to advance.  He hit .245 at High-A, and while the overall average wasn’t bad it’s skewed by a .467 BABIP at Double-A.  His ability to play other positions helps, but he appears to be more of a depth option at the upper levels as opposed a potential starter.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball America

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
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