Jason Donald will make his major league debut today, playing shortstop for our Cleveland Indians. Donald will turn 26 in September and, more than likely, he'll have to stick and produce in the major leagues between now and the end of next season in order to become a viable player in the bigs. He's got several things going for him: former top prospect status (check his 2008 line), considerable middle infield utility (he has come through the minors at SS, played 2B, and can presumably handle 3B), and a sudden development of plate discipline (21:32 BB:K this season).
For Indians fans, there's a reason to root hard for Jason besides a simple desire to see all our players to succeed. Donald is one of the four players received in the Cliff Lee trade, alongside Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco, and Jason Knapp. At the time, each of the four was something of a "buy low" option, with Marson, Carrasco and Donald all having lost prospect sheen for one reason or another and Knapp being a power arm that couldn't stay healthy. Of the four, only Donald has bounced back from "low" status, regaining his swing after an injury-plagued 2009. Knapp has appeared in only 4 games for the Cleveland organization, none this season, Marson has struggled to hit in both Columbus and Cleveland, and Carrasco is still trying to figure out how to improve his "make-up" so that he can surrender fewer "runs", especially in the majors after his truly horrific 2009 debut.
There's still hope for all these players (CarCar must find his K's and lose the new BB's, Marson must regain his singles stroke, Knapp must simply exhibit durability) but in terms of early returns, the Lee trade is discouraging. Donald could change that by becoming a decent starting shorstop this month, or even by showing he's going to have a major league career as a super utility. For a reasonable hope, we can look towards his new keystone mate Mark Grudzielanek's better seasons; for an absurd hope, we can look towards the late-20s explosion of another Phillies' second baseman, Chase Utley.
So, good luck, Jason Donald. No pressure-you can't be much worse than Valbuena!
Photo via www.hotstovephilly.com