Jeter Downs hits a two-run homer in the fifth inning of Boston’s spring training opener Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla. Downs went 2 for 2 and drove in three runs in a 7-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins. Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jeter Downs blasted a two-run home run to right-center field in the fifth inning, then delivered an RBI single to center in the sixth inning, but Boston lost 7-6 to Minnesota in its spring training opener Sunday.

Downs, a highly regarded infield prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade last February, entered the game in the fourth inning and immediately made an impression with his bat.

The 22-year-old Downs is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Worcester but is considered a top candidate to eventually take over as Boston’s second baseman. Baseball America has him ranked No. 71 on its Top 100 prospects list.

“He’s a good player,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said about Downs. “Everyone knows him. We like him a lot. Slow heartbeat, it seems like. Even during the drills. Put a good swing on it there going opposite field and staying on a breaking ball. Going up the middle. He’s part of the future. And we know that. So very happy he was able to perform.”

Connor Wong, a catching prospect who also was part of the Betts trade, went 1 for 2 with a double.

“Wong was outstanding behind the plate,” Cora said.

Cora said last week that he received some informal scouting reports from friends Alfonso Otero and Jon Jay about Downs. Downs played at SLAM, a charter school in Miami, under Otero.

“(Otero) knows me from UM (Miami), so he knows the way I play defense and he talked great things about him (Downs),” Cora said. “Actually, Jeter worked out with (major leaguer) Jon Jay, too, during the offseason. So I have a head start. I’ve got a good feel about him. But I want to see him. We’ve just got to let him play. Defensively, it seems like the game comes easy for him. Sometimes too easy, and maybe that’s where he makes errors or the lack of concentration happens. First of all, we have to learn the player.”

Nathan Eovaldi was the starting pitcher for Boston and allowed two earned runs on two hits, while walking one and striking out two in 11/3 innings.

Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis also homered for the Red Sox in the seven-inning game. This spring, games can be five innings, seven innings or nine innings.


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