In Monday’s regular season finale, the Wilmington Blue Rocks debuted two new players up from Low-A Lexington. One of those was centerfielder Brandon Downes, who entered the game on defense in the seventh. He stepped to the plate for the first time as a Blue Rock in the bottom of the eighth (though he struck out).
It seems Blue Rocks manager Brian Buchanan may go to Downes as a late game replacement the rest of the way because he inserted Downes into centerfield (with Dominique Taylor moving to right field) in the 8th inning of Game 1 of the Carolina League Northern Division Series on Wednesday night. Downes delivered an RBI single in the top of the ninth (his first RBI as a Blue Rock).
Prior to his promotion for the playoffs, Downes hit .251 in 106 games with the Legends. He hit 29 doubles, three triples, and 14 home runs. Downes scored 52 runs, drove in 59, and stole 19 bases (compared to seven caught stealing).
Following Monday’s game, Downes took time to answer some of my questions.
- When did you find out you were being promoted?
“Two days ago after our game. I went into the clubhouse and the coach called me in. I thought he was going to yell at me about something. He asked if I was tired and I was like ‘No’ and he’s ‘Well you’re going up to Wilmington for the playoffs’. That was pretty cool and pretty interesting to find out. It’s awesome.”
- Did you think you would play?
“I mean, you’re always expecting to get in, but to be honest, I didn’t think so. I didn’t know what my role here’s going to be or what I was going to do. It’s kind of exciting to get in there and get my feet wet a little bit.”
- What was it like to get out there?
“It’s the same as everywhere else. Just trying to get used to the field and everything. It was a little different from Lexington, but it was nice.”
- What was your favorite highlight reel catch from Lexington?
“My favorite one is the one I got on ESPN, the catch at the wall. That was pretty exciting. I knew the wall was there, I was just trying to make it. I had no idea it was going to be on ESPN until I started getting Tweets and stuff about it.”
Here’s the catch courtesy of the Legends:
- What was the College World Series experience like while you were at the University of Virginia (Downes was a seventh round pick in 2014)?
“It was really exciting. It was the most intense baseball I’ve ever played. I just got to play with my brothers every day and it was definitely really exciting to get out there and do that.”
- Do you think you could bring that experience here, with many of your new teammates having never played in the playoffs before?
“I don’t know if they’ll listen to me about that stuff. I hope I can. It’s very exciting to be able to get back to playoff baseball again and hopefully I can help lead either on or off the field as the guys try to win and get a ring.”
The Blue Rocks are one win away from getting to the Carolina League Championship, as they host Game 2 against Lynchburg tonight (weather permitting).