- Full name Joshua Adam Donaldson
- Born 12/08/1985 in Pensacola, FL
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Auburn
- Debut 04/30/2010
Drafted in the C-A round (48th overall) by the Chicago Cubs in 2007 (signed for $652,500).
View Draft ReportAfter a prolific high school career in Mobile, Ala., where Donaldson played football and basketball and starred as a shortstop and pitcher, he has developed into a dependable, steady player for the Tigers. He played third base as a freshman in 2005, began catching as a sophomore and boosted his reputation with a strong showing in the Cape Cod League last summer. A right thumb injury limited his action behind the plate as a junior, but he had not missed a game dating back to his freshman season. He's a work in progress defensively, but shows passable catch-and-throw skills with a solid-average arm. He's a hitter first, and has relied on plus bat speed and an aggressive approach to pace Auburn in several offensive categories, including double-digit home runs in back to back years. His swing is unorthodox, and a hard front step that triggers his swing should be toned down to improve his timing and balance. He's susceptible to good breaking balls. But Donaldson can murder good fastballs, and did it with wood last summer when he hit .302 with 15 extra-base hits. He'll go off the board as early as the supplemental round and no later than the third round.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Donaldson is the last player remaining in the A's organization from the four-prospect package received in the July 2008 trade that sent Rich Harden to the Cubs. Donaldson repeated Triple-A in 2011, improving on his batting average from 2010 and having another solid year in terms of power. Overly aggressive in the past, he cut down on his swing and started managing at-bats rather than just trying to crank home runs. He has a feel for taking balls the other way and at least average raw power, which stands out behind the plate. Donaldson was an infielder until his sophomore year at Auburn, when he moved to catching, and he saw intermittent action at third base last season. The A's liked what they saw from him at the hot corner and consider him an option there, but he's still primarily a catcher. He has a strong arm that's viable at either spot. He moves well blocking balls behind the plate, though his 14 errors were the most among Pacific Coast League catchers. He's a below-average runner but not bad for a catcher. In spring training, Donaldson will compete for the job as Kurt Suzuki's backup in Oakland. A third season in Triple-A wouldn't do much for his development.
Donaldson steadily climbed through the A's system since arriving with Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson in a July 2008 trade that sent Rich Harden to the Cubs. He made his big league debut last April and homered in his second big league game, though the rest of his time in Oakland wasn't as productive. The 48th overall pick in 2007 and recipient of a $652,500 bonus, Donaldson moved from third base to catcher in his sophomore season at Auburn, so his bat has always been ahead of his defense. He has fine raw power for a catcher and his 19 homers last year were a career high. He has good feel for the strike zone but needs to have a better approach and tone down his aggressiveness if he's going to hit for average. He tends to press and gets himself out in front on pitches. When he's going well, he lets the ball travel deep and hits to all fields. Donaldson is an agile defender behind the dish and has also dabbled at both corner infield spots as a pro. He needs to clean up his receiving and his transfer on his throws, but he has a strong arm and erased 39 percent of basestealers in 2010. He's a below-average runner but quicker than most backstops. Donaldson's power is tantalizing, but his hitting and defense need further polish at Sacramento before he can push for an regular role in Oakland.
Donaldson didn't take up catching until his sophomore season at Auburn and quickly boosted his draft stock by showing some feel for working behind the plate and hitting .348 as a junior. The Cubs took him with the 48th overall pick in the 2007 draft and signed him for $652,500, but his career in their organization was short lived. Donaldson got off to a slow start at low Class A and was included with Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson in the July 2008 deal that sent Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to Chicago. After rediscovering his stroke in the A's system in 2008, Donaldson advanced to Double-A and held his own last year, backstopping the RockHounds to the Texas League title. He has toned down the aggressive stride he had in college to give himself a more compact swing, and he has an outstanding feel for the strike zone. The A's are confident Donaldson's power will continue developing, and he has the strength to hit balls out to all fields. His power is primarily geared to his pull side now, though, as all but one of his nine homers last year went to left field. Donaldson is athletic and shows soft hands, a strong arm and a quick release behind the plate. He threw out 40 percent of basestealers last year, but he's by no means a finished product. His receiving needs some tightening up after he allowed a TL-high 17 passed balls and committed 16 errors. He's a below-average runner but moves better than most catchers, and he saw some action at third base last year. Donaldson doesn't have Max Stassi's potential, but he's the best catching option in the upper levels of the system. He'll be the everyday catcher at Sacramento in 2010.
Donaldson ditched his third baseman's mitt and took up catching as a sophomore at Auburn in 2006, a move that helped propel him up draft boards. The Cubs signed him for $652,500 as the 48th overall pick in 2007, and he began his pro career auspiciously by ranking as the short-season Northwest League's top position prospect. He got off to a horrible start in 2008 in low Class A, though he got his bat going in the hitter-friendly California League following a trade to the A's in which Oakland gave up Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to acquire him along with Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson. He has a good feel for hitting and does a fine job of using the whole field, though some scouts question if he'll hit enough to be a big league regular. He's strong and should produce average power. Donaldson's strength and athleticism are apparent behind the plate, where he has a slightly above-average arm and a quick release that helped him throw out 37 percent of basestealers last season. Still relatively new to the position, he's mastering the finer points of catching, such as blocking after committing 18 passed balls in 94 games. He has close to average speed, unusual for a catcher. Donaldson will advance to Double-A in 2009.
A former third baseman, Donaldson started catching as a sophomore at Auburn in 2006. The position shift and a strong summer in the Cape Cod League sent his draft stock skyrocketing, and he went 48th overall in June. After signing for $652,500, he rated as the short-season Northwest League's top position prospect. Donaldson provides more offense and athleticism than most catchers. He's aggressive and looks to pull pitches for power early in counts, but can shorten his stroke and use the opposite field. He controls the strike zone and projects as a .280 hitter with 15-20 homers a season. He has slightly above-average arm strength and threw out 38 percent of basestealers in his pro debut. His speed is average. His inexperience shows behind the plate, though the Cubs believe he'll become a solid defender. He had 11 passed balls in 45 games and sometimes hurried his release and undermined his arm strength. Chicago has built up its catching depth, so it may take things slow with Donaldson and let him concentrate on his work behind the plate. He'll probably open 2008 in low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
A converted third baseman who ideally profiles as an offense-first catcher, Donaldson was hitting just .217/.276/.349 in low Class A when the Cubs traded him to the Athletics in the Rich Harden deal in July. He got his bat jump-started in the more hitter-friendly Cal League, hitting .330/.391/.564 during the regular season and smashing four doubles and four homers in the playoffs. Donaldson has good plate discipline and should have at least average power, though some scouts question whether he'll hit enough to play every day in the big leagues. He does a good job of using the whole field and runs better than most catchers. Donaldson still needs to work on the nuances of catching. He showed his raw ability by throwing out 35 percent of basestealers in the Cal League, but his receiving skills are still developing. He committed 12 passed balls in 42 games, bringing his career total to 29 in 139 pro contests.
Donaldson was recognized as the league's leader in on-base percentage (.470) and he would have ranked first in slugging percentage (.605) if he hadn't fallen three plate appearances short of officially qualifying. He showed he could handle wood last summer in the Cape Cod League, and he benefited from Boise's hitter-friendly Memorial Stadium (where he hit .364 with eight of his nine homers), so his performance wasn't too surprising. He came out of college as an offensive-minded catcher with an aggressive approach and an unproven defensive package, and that's what NWL observers saw in Donaldson. He's geared to pull, feasts on fastballs and has above-average bat speed and raw power. He has good strike-zone awareness and will shorten his swing and use the opposite field when he's behind in counts. He has a solid-average arm with a quick, clean release and passable receiving skills. He threw out 40 percent of basestealers, but ranked second in the league with 11 passed balls in 42 games. "I thought he showed some agility behind the plate and his throws were online," an American Leaue scout said. "He's got some work to do back there, but he has a good feel for catching."