Jason Donald seems to do the hard stuff easily and the easy stuff hard. Put him in the field and hit a ball to either side of him and he looks like Ozzie Smith, but hit it right at him and he tends to look more like a shortstop version of Greg Luzinski. At the plate, he hit some of the best college pitchers pretty well, but put him up there against a scrub and he sometimes conjures up images of Mario Mendoza in his prime. It's that inconsistency that simply has scouts puzzled and wondering if Jason Donald was worth a third round pick in the 2006 Draft.
As you look through the Phillies' organization, there aren't a lot of young shortstops to get excited about. The best shortstop prospect is Adrian Cardenas, but most believe his future will be at second base. The future is there for Donald to grab a hold of, but it remains to be seen just how firm of a grasp he'll be able to get.
Jason Donald's career stats
Acquired: Drafted in the third round of the 2006 Draft out of the University of Arizona. Was originally drafted by the Angels in the 20th round of the 2003 Draft.
Batting and Power: Scouts - including Phillies' scouts - are very concerned about Donald's offensive potential. He hasn't shown a lot of plate discipline. He hit .315 in his college career and actually did face a lot of good pitchers, especially in his final season. Still, there doesn't appear to be a lot of promise for him at the plate unless his discipline improves.
Baserunning and Speed: Donald has decent speed and it's a shame that he doesn't have better discipline at the plate because it would add a nice dimension to his game. He can be a tough-nosed baserunner and is smart about when to use his speed and be aggressive on the basepaths. He doesn't have enough speed to be considered a threat to lead the league in stolen base numbers, but he has the potential to steal 20-25 bases a year if he can get on base enough.
Defense: It's not hard to see why scouts are excited about Donald's defense. His speed enables him to get into the hole and put himself in position to make a seemingly impossible play and make it look smooth and easy. Hit the ball right at him though and everybody holds their breath. One scout told us that he thinks it's a matter of instinct; that Donald is an instinctive type of player who is best when he simply reacts and doesn't have the time to really focus on the play.
Projection: If Donald is going to be a major leaguer, it's likely going to be because of his defense. At this point, he doesn't appear to be anything more than a low-in-the-order hitter who you take what you can get from and simply settle for whatever he gives you. He will likely improve on his defense as he grows more confident because he has all the skills, including a strong arm. Learning the strike zone and laying off the bad pitches is where Donald is most suspect and that's going to take a lot to improve on.
Comparison: Oddly enough, one scout said that he sees a lot of Jimmy Rollins in Donald. Both have struggled with plate discipline although Rollins has improved as time has gone on and has the potential to improve even more if he doesn't try to do too much. That's the biggest difference; Donald might not have the natural ability to improve too much on plate discipline. Donald also doesn't have Rollins' speed although he's close. Both can make dazzling defensive plays, but again, Rollins has a decided edge in defensive talent.