Phillies Prospect #11: Jason Donald

It's tough to be a middle infielder in the Phillies organization because of the 800 pound gorillas named Rollins and Utley. Even so, Jason Donald is making the most of every opportunity, including a visit to Major League camp.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 3rd round of the 2006 Draft.

B: R T: R / Height: 6' 1" / Weight: 195 lbs.

Birth Date:  September 4, 1984

2007 Team/League: Clearwater (83 g), Lakewood (51 g)

Positions Played in 2007:  SS (134 g)

School: University of Arizona

Last Year's Ranking: 29

Why he jumped from #29 to #11: Jason Donald simply had one of those breakout seasons that every player dreams of and it came early in his career. After what was termed a "nice" debut season at Batavia in 2006, Donald skipped over Williamsport and started 2007 at Lakewood, but stayed there for just about half the season before moving again, this time to Clearwater. In both stops, Donald hit a combined .304 and showed a little bit of power (12 HR). Now, at just 23, he's set for a stint in Double-A and if he puts up strong numbers there, will be looking for another move before too long.

Batting and Power:  The Phillies aren't sure just how much power Donald will generate and for now, they're content with the "gap power" that he's shown in the minors. He's got a simple, short swing and doesn't try to do too much when he's at the plate. As for discipline, Donald will take a walk when it's presented to him, but yet he's aggressive enough to swing away when warranted and doesn't waste too many good pitches. That's a big change over the guy that the Phillies drafted and it's a prime reason why he was able to put up the numbers that he did last season. Offensively, Donald is a student of the game and how pitchers pitch him. While other players head for the showers right after a game, Donald grabs a notebook and starts writing down everything that he saw in that game, describing what pitches a certain pitcher threw him and in what situation and how he reacted. Before games, he pours over the same notebook and reminds himself of what pitchers did against him and concentrates on what he needs to watch for. He didn't have much of a notebook to go by when the Phillies brought him over to the Major League camp for a one-day visit and he launched two three-run home runs in a game broadcast back to Philadelphia. Call it adrenaline, call it luck, call it whatever, but Donald opened some eyes on that visit.

Jason Donald celebrates one of his two, three-run home runs in Sunday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. (AP Photo)

Baserunning and Speed: Don't look for Jason Donald to win any stolen base titles, but don't look for him on any list of the slowest guys around, either. He's got average speed, but uses it primarily to grab an extra base here and there and not for stealing bases. One problem is that he doesn't have a quick first couple of steps and it slows him down.

Defense: Here's the issue. Donald can handle playing shortstop, but doesn't have great range. Again, being a student of the game, he works on positioning himself well, which helps, but range (and his arm strength) will be a bit of a factor. That slow first step is more of an issue defensively than it is on the bases. The other problem is that the Phillies have Adrian Cardenas ahead of Donald and Jimmy Rollins ahead of him at short, so it figures that a move could be in order. Third base could be problematic because of his arm strength and he's a little slow with his reaction time. Second base figures to be the best spot for Donald, but again, Chase Utley is written in there for the foreseeable future, leaving Donald seemingly blocked at all turns.

Projection: Donald needs a season to show that 2007 wasn't a fluke. If he can go to Double-A and put up the same sort of numbers, then the convincing will be done, at least for his offense. His defensive situation is going to be an issue, unless the Phillies package him in a deal to send him to a team where the middle part of the infield won't be as blocked as it is in Philadelphia. Obviously, the more positions that Donald can play, the more valuable that he would make himself and he could eventually find himself in a utility role with the Phillies, which is where some scouts project that he'll wind up.

Comparison: Charlie Manuel compared him to former Astros great Craig Biggio. "Same makeup, talks like him, plays like him, everything," Manuel said of the Donald-Biggio similarities.

Said Donald, "I didn't know what he was saying the first time he called me Biggio. I just thought he didn't know my name. I'll take that comparison. Craig Biggio is a great player. He'll probably be in the Hall of Fame some day. It's pretty surreal," Donald said. "This kind of stuff doesn't happen too often. If I hit home runs, I run into them. To get the opportunity to do this is pretty amazing. It's something I can take with me."

The Biggio comparison is likely a little bit of a manager looking to heap some praise on a young player as he heads into an important season, but especially in personality and effort, the comparison isn't way off base.

What else you should know about Jason Donald: 

  • He was originally drafted by the Angels in the 20th round of the 2003 Draft.

Jason Donald's career stats

2006 Batavia 1 24 .263 63 213 33 56 14 2 12 23 42 .347 .362
2007 Lakewood 4 30 .310 51 197 41 61 9 3 2 29 39 .409 .447
2007 Clearwater 8 41 .300 83 293 48 88 22 5 3 35 70 .386 .491
TOTALS 13 95 .292 197 703 122 205 45 10 17 87 151 .381 .440

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