Q&A with First-Round Pick Josh Donaldson

The Cubs selected Auburn catcher Josh Donaldson with their compensatory pick in the first round of the 2007 draft on Thursday. In doing so, Donaldson became the highest drafted Auburn player since former two-sport athlete Gabe Gross was selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2001 draft. The Blue Jays' scouting director at the time is now the Cubs' scouting director.

The 21-year-old Donaldson batted .294 in 47 games as a freshman at Auburn before hitting .276 in his sophomore season with the Tigers. Along the way, he added catching to his arsenal of positions after first coming to Auburn as a shortstop/pitcher.

This past season, Donaldson batted a team-best .349 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 55 games. He also stole 17 bases in 20 attempts.

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How much do you think your impressive showing in the Cape Cod League last summer helped propel you to the top round of the draft?

I think it put me on the map. I think it really opened up some people's eyes that I could play a little bit and put it all together. The (wooden bats) really didn't affect me that much; it actually made me a little better I think.

What did you focus on the most in the Cape Cod League?

I think it was my approach at the plate more than anything; not trying to hit home runs all of the time and rather just try to make solid contact. That's how you become successful.

What was the biggest reason for your success at the plate this year?

I think a lot of it had to do with confidence and knowing that I could play at this level. Working with some of the coaches helped me establish a good foundation. When I came here, I was more of a hacker. I went up there and just swung the bat and was real aggressive. It's something I still have to work on today, just harnessing my aggression and waiting for pitches that I'm looking for. I think that (work) will make me successful in the future.

You originally came to Auburn as an infielder, correct?

Right. I came in as a shortstop and made my first appearance in college as a pitcher. It's an interesting story. I threw two innings as a pitcher and didn't give up any runs, but I started to hit the ball really good, so that was pretty much the last of me pitching. I was in the games playing third base and started 39 games my freshman year as a third baseman. My sophomore year, I made the change to catcher and (played) third base.

What made you decide you wanted to catch?

I think it was something the coaches were interested in me doing. It was just a position that benefits my personality and it helped my baseball career. I got back there, liked it a lot and didn't want to leave.

How would you rate your throwing arm?

It's pretty good, I think. MLB(.com) said I had something of a below average arm, which kind of hurt my feelings a little bit (laughs). But I'm right about 1.8 or 1.9 the whole time, so it's no big deal. I feel as long as pitchers give me a chance, for the most part I'll be successful throwing guys out.

Now that you've gotten used to catching, is your preference to stay behind the plate for the long-haul?

Yeah, I believe my future is at catching. That's what I want to do and I feel that's what the Cubs want me to do and that's what they drafted me for.

You stole a quality amount of bases this year and the scouts all agree you're overly fast for a catcher. Is that something you take a lot of pride in and maybe is something that separates you from the rest of the pack?

Yeah, just because I talked to my head coach (Tom Slater) about it this year since I really hadn't had an opportunity to run since I've been at Auburn. He said, "I'm going to try to get you about 15 bags this year." I said, "If you just get me the freedom, I'll get you 15 bags." He told me that if I could prove to him in the fall and spring that I could steal bases, he'd give me the green light for the most part this season. Obviously I proved I could and was successful at it this year.

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