A few hours after the Rule 5 Draft was completed, the Orioles traded their selection to the Philadelphia Phillies. In return, the Phillies shipped their first of three picks and cash back to the Orioles. The new challenge for the Orioles will be trying to keep 22 year old catcher Adam Donachie on the 25-man roster for the entire season.
Donachie's prospect status came at an early age. In 2002, he was named a first team All-American. Later that summer, he was drafted with the 47th overall pick by the Royals. Unfortunately, Donachie failed to impress with the bat until his age 21 season, when he hit .294/.375/.467 in one of the most extreme offensive parks in the California League. Returned to High-A to start the 2006 season, Donachie hit a less impressive .271/.365/.414 before completely collapsing in Double-A Wichita. Nevertheless, Donachie is an extremely patient hitter who walked 50 times in less than 300 at bats last season. Scouts doubt Donachie's offensive ceiling because his swing tends to get long, but he does have some power potential. Royals Corner rated Donachie as the #41 prospect in the Royals' organization following the 2006 season.
Defensively, Donachie is already major league ready. In 2006, he nabbed 44% of would-be base-stealers and that is consistent with previous seasons. He also gets rave reviews for his game-calling and ability to handle pitchers. Some observers have called into question Donachie's work ethic, but he took advantage of his opportunities in this year's Arizona Fall League, batting .360/.515/.600 in 25 at bats.
The Orioles have shown the willingness to go with three catchers in the past, but Paul Bako makes Adam Donachie redundant. Although Donachie is probably the better defensive catcher at this point, career backups like Bako tend to hang on to defensive reputations long after they are deserved. Although Donachie has enough upside as an above-average backup catcher to make him interesting, it is unlikely he'll do much more offensive damage than the anemic Bako in 2007. Since Bako is the only one of them guaranteed $900,000, it might be an uphill battle for Donachie to stay on the roster.
Alternatively, the Orioles could send another player back to the Royals for Donachie's full rights. That way, they could send him to Bowie for some more development time. Typically, the player selected in the Rule 5 Draft has more value than the traded player in such an instance, since the draftee's original club has less leverage.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com