Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Josh Donaldson

WEST SACRAMENTO - Josh Donaldson got a taste of the big leagues last season with the Oakland A's and he has been hard at work this year to get back to "The Show." After a rough April, Donaldson has been swinging a hot bat. He has also proven himself to be a versatile player, catching and playing third base when needed. Gabby Micek spoke with Donaldson about his season to date.

After a slow start in April, batting merely .175, a player has the opportunity to either give up or work harder. It is clear that Sacramento River Cats' catcher Josh Donaldson chose the latter. And so, it was only fitting that on the first day of August, Donaldson would hit a walk-off home run. The walk-off homer was just the latest sign that Donaldson's April swoon was well behind him. He finished July with a batting average of .370, and is currently among team leaders in HRs (15), RBIs (57) and SLG (.464). Donaldson has raised his OPS from 591 in April to 801 as of Ausgust 6.

His professional career began when he was selected 48th overall by the Chicago Cubs in the 2007 first-year player draft. A year later he was acquired by the A's, and on April 30, 2010, Donaldson made his major league debut with Oakland. Although individual statistics are always important, Donaldson learned that in the majors winning the game is the top priority. Bringing this winning mindset to the River Cats has in turn benefited not only himself, but also the teammates around him. This priceless experience also helped Donaldson realize that he now needs to be ready at any time for his name to be called.

Although an infielder -- more specifically a third baseman -- up until his final year of college, Donaldson has developed into a solid defensive catcher for the River Cats. Now comfortable at third and behind the plate, he has proven his status as a versatile player.

I spoke with Donaldson earlier this week about his progression from April until August, his goals for the rest of the season, his comfort level defensively and more...

Gabby Micek: After struggling a bit in April, you have been having an excellent season. Did you make any major adjustments to any part of your game?

Josh Donaldson: I think the biggest thing that has helped me is just getting comfortable in the box again and having a good approach at the plate. And obviously a big thing is swinging at strikes and getting a good pitch to hit.

GM: Congratulations on hitting the walk-off homer on Monday night. How did that feel?

JD: It was nice. After being down the majority of the game and coming back at the end to win, it was awesome.

GM: Playing both catcher and third, how comfortable are you feeling at these positions?

JD: I feel really good. Catching has been going well for me lately and I feel comfortable at third base, it being my natural position. I feel like I can go over there at any time and do a good job.

GM: Is there one you like better?

JD: I love catching now, although growing up I had always wanted to be an infielder. The last couple of years I have really taken control of being a catcher and doing the things necessary to be good at it.

GM: You made your major league debut last year. What do you feel you need to do to get yourself back there?

JD: Basically just keep doing the things I've been doing. And prepare the way I prepare. A big part is staying healthy and just waiting for that opportunity when it comes. Hopefully good things will happen.

GM: What did you learn from that experience?

JD: I learned a lot actually. Trying to find your role when you get called up, and making sure you're good at it is a big thing. Also just realizing that I need to be ready because my name may be called at anytime.

GM: Anything in particular that stuck in your mind?

JD: Well I definitely realized it was different for me, even just being in the clubhouse with all of the do's and don'ts. It's not just about baseball when you get there. A lot of other things are taken into consideration.

GM: It's not just about baseball? How so?

JD: Just as far as being in the clubhouse, it's not about you anymore than it is anybody else. It's just about winning games, and that's all that anybody's concerned about. That's what I've been trying to do here, and we've done a really good job. Hopefully if that time comes again I can continue it there.

GM: How has it been playing for a team that has been in first place pretty much all year?

JD: I don't know if we look at ourselves as being in first place. We just go out there and take every game one at a time and go out there and try and win it. You take a look at our team and everybody has had success, that's why we are where we are. Anytime you can put nine players on the field who have a chance to be successful, then your team will be successful.

GM: Do you have any goals for the rest of the season?

JD: My first goal is just to stay healthy and my second goal is to hopefully win a PCL Championship.

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