Nationals Infielder, Former Red Sox Prospect Off To Strong Start At Spring Training

Washington Nationals infielder Jeter Downs went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a stolen base in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

He also made a highlight reel catch over his head.

Despite being part of some high-profile trades, including the one that sent Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Downs' prospect status has taken a steep dive in recent years after hitting under .200 in back-to-back campaigns at Triple-A with a high strikeout rate.

The Nationals claimed Downs off waivers from the Boston Red Sox in December, and he's in camp fighting for a utility role on the rebuilding club. 

Although Downs has showcased impressive defense and speed on the basepaths during the early part of spring training, the Nationals seem to have their sights set on 31-year-old Ildemaro Vargas as their utilityman.

Consequently, Downs is likely to return to Triple-A to begin this year, which is for the best, given his lack of offensive promise beyond the lower levels of the minor leagues. However, if he can impress enough this spring, he might just land a bench role for Opening Day.

Nonetheless, the twenty-four-year-old remains a worthwhile project for the Nationals as a former consensus top-100 prospect. Photo Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports