Red Sox promote Jeter Downs, appoint James Norwood

Red Sox promote Jeter Downs, appoint James Norwood

The Red Sox announced on Monday that they have recalled a prospect from the field Throw Downs of Triple-A Worcester and designated right-hander James Norwood for assignment.

This will be Downs’ Major League debut as soon as he first steps onto the pitch for a game. Acquired alongside Alex Verdugo and Connor Wang in the trade that sent Mookie Bets and David Price for the Dodgers, Downs was once widely ranked among the sport’s top 100 prospects but saw his stock plummet after a pair of poor Triple-A performances. In 53 games so far with the WooSox, the 23-year-old Downs are just 0.180/0.297/0.397 with a 31.1 percent strikeout rate in 222 plate appearances. That’s actually a modest improvement over his struggles in a wider sample during the 2021 campaign. Overall, he’s now had 627 Triple-A plate appearances with just a .187/.281 slash /.355 to show it.

Despite those struggles, Downs would get his first big league look and give the Sox extra depth on the pitch at a time when both Christian Arroyo and Enrique Hernandez are on the injured list. Major League teams that carried 14 pitchers must also reduce their pitching staff to 13 starting today, and Downs was already on the 40-man roster, making him an easy name to remember. They’ll need a 40-man berth once Arroyo is cleared back from the Covid injured list anyway, so singling out Norwood and briefly giving Downs a taste of the Majors is a sensible route – albeit probably short-term – take it for now.

Norwood, acquired from the Phillies for cash over the weekend, has never appeared in a game with the Sox before what is now his third DFA in the past three months. The 28-year-old spent most of spring training with the Padres but was slated for a late camp assignment and was later traded to Philadelphia for minor league infielder Kervin Pichardo. Norwood showed great speed, an ability to miss bats and a knack for keeping the ball in the park in his 17 1/3 innings with the Phils. However, he also walked too many batters, had trouble blocking runners (both inherited and those he allowed to reach base), and generally gave away too many hard contacts.

In those 17 1/3 frames with Philly, Norwood was scored for an 8.31 ERA, upping his career mark in 44 1/3 innings to 5.48. It’s certainly possible that Norwood’s 96.8 mph average fastball and splitter that come with a 42.7% smell rate will earn him another team’s swipe, whether via waivers or some other small exchange. He is out of minor league options so any club interested will have to put him on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox will have a week to trade Norwood, attempt to get him through outright waivers or release him.

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