- Full name Darin Burton Downs
- Born 12/26/1984 in Southfield, MI
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 200 / Bats: R / Throws: L
- School Santaluces
- Debut 07/03/2012
Drafted in the 5th round (133rd overall) by the Chicago Cubs in 2003 (signed for $225,000).
View Draft ReportDowns isn't as overpowering as the lefties ahead of him on this list, but they can't match his pitchability. He's the most polished prep pitcher in the nation and compares well to Pirates prospect Sean Burnett, a 2000 first-rounder out of a Florida high school. Downs' stuff isn't quite in Burnett's class, as he has an 85-88 mph fastball, but one scout says Downs has the best command he has seen in 20 years and could handle Double-A right now. There are differing opinions on whether his curveball or his changeup is his top pitch, but the combination allows him to keep hitters off balance with a fastball that lacks velocity and movement. Downs missed a month earlier in the year with shoulder tendinitis, though that's not an issue now. While he may never throw harder than 90 mph, he's able to dominate with his finesse approach.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Downs got rocked in the Rookie-level Arizona League in his professional debut, but that wasn't a true indication of his potential. He missed a month of his high school senior season with shoulder tendinitis and was never 100 percent after signing for $225,000 as a fifth-round pick. When Downs was sound last spring, one scout said he had the best command he had seen in 20 years and could handle Double-A. His curveball rated a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and some observers thought his changeup was just as good. With those two offerings and an advanced feel for pitching, he compensates for an 85-89 mph fastball that lacks plus velocity or life. Downs' shoulder is fine now and shouldn't be a long-term problem. The Cubs took things slowly with him last summer and probably will do so again in 2004, which could mean some time in extended spring and a June assignment to short-season Boise.