Friday, December 21, 2018

Welcome to the Blue, Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray!

The trade we all knew was coming finally got done -- and just in time for Christmas. As you surely know by now, the Dodgers traded Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and $7 million to the Cincinnati Reds for minor league prospects Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray and soon to be released Homer Bailey. Here are Dodger notes on our two new youngsters:
Jeter Downs
Downs, 20, was the Reds’ first-round pick (No. 32 overall) in the 2017 First-Year Player draft and last year spent his entire season at Single-A Dayton, where he hit .257 with 13 homers, 23 doubles, 47 RBI and 37 stolen bases in 120 games. Last season, Downs appeared in 73 games at second base (71 starts) and 43 at shortstop (41 starts). The native of Colombia played his high school baseball in Miami Gardens, FL.    
Josiah Gray
Gray, who turned 21 today, was Cincinnati’s second round selection (No. 72 overall) in last year’s draft. The right-hander spent his first year of professional baseball at Rookie-level Greenville in the Appalachian League and went 2-2 with a 2.58 ERA (15 ER/52.1 IP) in 12 starts. Gray struck out 59 batters and walked just 17 while posting a WHIP of 0.88. The New Rochelle, NY native attended LeMoyne college in Syracuse, NY.
BTW, MLB's prospect site already ranks these two guys for the Dodgers. Jeter Downs slots in as the Dodgers 7th best prospect, behind Dennis Santana and ahead of Mitchell White. Josiah Gray settles in at 16th in MLB's list, behind Tony Gonsolin and ahead of Edwin Uceta. Here's what they say about both players:
Jeter Downs
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
Named after Derek Jeter and part of a baseball family that includes Red Sox first-base prospect Jerry Downs, Jeter signed with the Reds for $1,822,500 as the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 Draft. He made an easy transition to pro ball, more than holding his own against older competition in the Rookie-level Pioneer League during his debut and in the pitcher-friendly low Class A Midwest League in his first full season. Cincinnati traded him to the Dodgers in December as part of a trade for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer. 
While Downs isn't the biggest guy in the world, he barrels the ball consistently and drives the ball to all fields. He should hit for a high average thanks to a simple right-handed swing and a mature approach. He possesses average speed but he's an aggressive baserunner who likes to steal. 
If Downs were a lock to stay at shortstop, he would have been a first-round pick. The Reds were pleasantly surprised at how well he handled short in his debut but deployed him more at second base in 2018. His range and arm fit better at second, and some scouts wonder if he might wind up in center field. 
Josiah Gray
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
After spending most of his first two seasons at NCAA Division II Le Moyne (N.Y.) as a shortstop and totaling just 23 innings on the mound, Gray became a full-time pitcher in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2017. He went 11-0 with 1.25 ERA (third in D-II) as a junior, after which the Reds signed him for $772,500 as a supplemental second-round choice. They dealt him to the Dodgers six months later as part of a package for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer. 
Gray has a quick arm that delivers fastballs that sit at 90-95 mph and reaches 97 with running action, and he maintains his velocity deep into games. He flashes a plus slider with good shape, though he's still learning to command it. He didn't use his changeup much and showed limited feel for it in college, though he has made some progress with it as he has employed it more in pro ball. 
Gray finds the strike zone with his fastball consistently, which gives him a chance to start. To remain in the rotation and reach his upside as a mid-rotation starter, he'll have to improve the consistency of his slider and quality of his changeup. If he moved to the bullpen, he might live in the mid-90s with his heater.
In celebration of these new Dodger additions I made a fantasy custom Baseball card for each of them. Check them out above.

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