Red Sox

Here’s how Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, and the top 10 Red Sox prospects are doing this year

After Connor Wong's call up, here's how the ten best Red Sox prospects are doing this year.

Triston Casas
Triston Casas at bat against the Minnesota Twins during a Grapefruit League spring training game. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tuesday’s game between the Red Sox and Rays was impactful for several reasons — most notably a tight race at the top of the American League East standings — but it also offered fans a chance to see one of the top prospects in baseball.

Rays infielder Wander Franco began his Major League career Tuesday — a player who, per MLB.com, has “the physical tools and natural ability needed to become the top switch-hitter of his generation.” Franco showed his immense potential in the bottom of the fifth inning, launching a three-run homer to left field.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, had a debut of their own (albeit a less heralded one): Catching prospect Connor Wong, one of the players acquired when the Red Sox dealt Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. Wong replaced back-up catcher Kevin Plawecki, who suffered a hamstring strain Sunday.

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Per the MLB’s rankings, Wong is the No. 16 prospect in the Red Sox organization. Who are the top 10 prospects, and how have they played this season? Here’s a closer look.

1. Triston Casas – Double-A Portland 1B (31 overall)

Age: 21

Stats: .287/.374/.463, 4 homers, 21 RBIs

Breakdown: Casas started slow but has rallied recently. Scouts hope he will someday be consistent both as a power and contact hitter. Casas recently went 6-for-15 at the Olympic qualifiers, helping Team USA punch its ticket.

2. Jeter Downs – Triple-A Worcester INF (36 overall)

Age: 22

Stats: .227/.311/.403, 6 homers, 13 RBIs

Breakdown: Downs projects best as a second baseman with plenty of hitting potential. He has had an up-and-down season — a six-game hitting streak in the middle of the year boosted his batting average, but it fell again over the last 10 as he slumped (.195). He homered twice in a big win last week.

3. Jarren Duran – Triple-A Worcester OF (87 overall)

Age: 24

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Stats: .286/.379/.627, 12 homers, 24 RBIs

Breakdown: Duran might be the most MLB-ready prospect in Worcester. He slashed .326/.392/.696 over his last 10 games, and Alex Cora fielded questions about Duran’s status after the outfielder cracked a walk-off homer Sunday afternoon

“He’s going to help us in the future,” Cora said. “The thing is the future might be tomorrow or it might be in a month or two months or next year.”

4. Bryan Mata – Double-A Portland RHP

Age: 22

Stats: Injured

Breakdown: Mata suffered a slight tear in his elbow last March and is yet to pitch this season. He was considered one of the best starters in the Red Sox farm system before the injury.

5. Gilberto Jimenez – Single-A Salem OF

Age: 20

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Stats: .299/.331/.381, 1 homer, 21 RBIs

Breakdown: One of the speediest players in the Red Sox farm system and an excellent defender, Jiménez still needs to refine his swing to hit for more power, but he has intriguing tools and has shown real flashes recently.

6. Tanner Houck – Triple-A Worcester RHP

Age: 24

Stats: One game pitched (injury)

Breakdown: Houck will return to action Thursday after being shut down with a flexor strain. He is expected to throw two innings.

Worcester Red Sox pitching coach Paul Abbott called Houck’s attitude “tremendous” in a recent interview.

“There’s nothing he can do except get better and get stronger,” Abbott said, per Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe. “He knows there’s plenty of time left to have a good season. He’s using this time to grow, get prepared, and hit the ground running when he does get back.”

7. Jay Groome – Single-A+ Greenville LHP

Age: 22

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Stats: 0-4, 5.66 ERA, 49 Ks, 20 BBs

Breakdown: One of the top prospects in 2016, Groome pitched just three games in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018. Groome struggled early but has had some encouraging starts this season.

8. Nick Yorke – Single-A Salem 2B

Age: 19

Stats: .254/.338/.343, 1 homer, 13 RBIs

Breakdown: Still only 19, Yorke impressed Alex Cora during spring training and batted .303 in his last 10 games.

9. Thaddeus Ward – Double-A Portland RHP

Age: 24

Stats: Injured

Breakdown: Ward — who did not pitch in 2020 due to the cancellation of the MiLB season — underwent Tommy John surgery in June. He had a solid 2019 season (8-5, 2.14 ERA) in Single-A and High-A.

10. Blaze Jordan – ROK-GCL 3B

Age: 18

Stats: None available

Breakdown: Jordan has been hitting .500 foot homers since he was 13. Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni expressed surprise that Jordan fell to the third round in the 2020 draft.

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“He’s a unique talent,” Toboni said. “A ton of power upside with a good feel to hit.”

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