Jeter Downs and Connor Wong have a new employer, and they won't have to wait long to get acquainted.A day after they were included in the finalized blockbuster that sent 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, Downs and Wong were among five non-roster players invited to big
Jeter Downs and Connor Wong have a new employer, and they won't have to wait long to get acquainted.
A day after they were included in the finalized blockbuster that sent 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, Downs and Wong were among five non-roster players invited to big league Spring Training on Tuesday.
Downs -- MLB.com's No. 44 overall prospect -- spent last year with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa in the Los Angeles organization, batting .276/.362/.526 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs while playing most of the season at 20 years old. The middle infielder helped lead Tulsa to the Texas League Finals and posted one of his best performances there, smacking three homers as part of a four-hit night in the Drillers' Game 2 win. In just his second full season, Downs was one of only 10 Minor Leaguers to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases.
"Jeter Downs, a middle infielder who's a good athlete, a really baseball player who [last] year took a major step forward offensively," Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told MLB.com. "And digging into that performance as our group did, we were really excited by the strides that he made and think he's got a chance to be a complete player that can really impact us. Again, a great kid who plays the game with really good feel and calmness, someone we feel will be really comfortable in the moment."
Wong was Downs' teammate at both levels last year, finishing in Tulsa and batting .349/.393/.604 with 24 homers and 82 RBIs in 111 games. A backstop by trade, the 23-year-old also can play second base and third.
"Connor Wong also has made a lot of strides offensively," Bloom told MLB.com. "He's always had a very good offensive approach, has come into some power. He's a really good athlete behind the plate, so good that he's played the infield, second and third before. And those guys are hard to find. And a lot of times, when you have really good athletes behind the plate, they can sometimes exceed what you expect of them. And so far, he's progressed really well."
Downs and Wong completed the trade that sent Betts and left-hander David Price from Boston to Hollywood. The deal initially was agreed upon on Feb. 5 but fell apart after the Twins pulled out of what was initially a three-team swap.
"These are two guys we're really excited to acquire," Bloom said of Downs and Wong. "Both of them we think have the potential to really help us at the big league level. Obviously there's still some development ahead of both of them."
Right-hander Denyi Reyes also was added to the list of non-roster invitees by the Red Sox. The 23-year-old finished last season as the 28th-ranked player in the system after going 8-12 with a 4.16 ERA in 26 starts with Double-A Portland.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.