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School: Virginia; Class: Junior
Position: CF; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-3; Weight: 200 pounds
Previously Drafted: Boston Red Sox, 43rd round, 2011
Background: Further evidence that development trends just don’t hold: Downes, a former catcher-turned-center-fielder, hit .321/.419/.453 in limited action during his freshman season; he followed that up with a .316/.393/.569 triple-slash line the next year. And then his production cratered.
A downturn in the Cape last summer, .246/.280/.398, turned into an all-out free fall this season with the Cavaliers. Through his first 44 games, the 6-foot-3 center fielder has hit a meek .219/.335/.381 with seven doubles and six homeruns.
Projection: Now some good news: ignore the basic counting stats for a second, the root of his approach has been evolving – he cut his strikeout rate from 20.5% to 16.7% while improving his walk rate from 9.2% to 11.8%. The basic power is still there, though largely dormant this season.
What it really comes down to is just plain old bad luck. Maybe some of it can be explained (injury, mechanics, etc…), but his BABIP the first two years hovered around .390; this season it’s .233.
Downes is going to be a big gamble for a team, but there’s talent definitely present. And it wouldn’t be surprising to see a numbers savvy team like the Red Sox, Rays, or Astros grab him after this year’s premium talent is off the board, maybe in the late second or third rounds.
You don’t have to squint too hard to see a potential league average everyday outfielder here. And, quite frankly, he could be the potential steal of the draft.
Ceiling: 2.5-win player
Floor: 0.5 to 1.0–win player
Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low
Draft Projection: Second/Third Round
Photo Courtesy of Kyle Laferriere-US PRESSWIRE via forwhomthecowbelltolls.com.