I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jason Donald during Spring Training and ask him a few baseball questions.
Jason, you started 2007 in Lakewood before finishing in Clearwater. What were the biggest differences between low-A and high-A baseball?
I think the biggest difference between high A and Low A was as with any level you move up, the game is a little bit sharper and quicker. Plus, there are some older pitchers with more experience that know how to pitch a little bit more. Better off speed and they can use that effectively when they were behind in the count.
I know that in the minors the team record is usually secondary (at least as far as the Phillies are concerned) to player development issues. What if any benefit to your development will you look back on winning the 2007 FSL title as having given you?
The Phillies do want to develop players, but they want to develop us in a winning atmosphere. I think winning the FSL was a great experience because you want to become accustomed to winning and playing in the playoffs and in a championship setting. When you get that taste of winning a title, it definitely sets the tone for what you would like to accomplish for the rest of your career.
The Threshers 2007 manager Dave Huppert was also the 2006 manager of the Blueclaws when they won their title. I know you weren’t with the Claws in ’06, but generally speaking how big of a role does a manger play in a team’s success, and specifically how big of a job do you think that role was in ’07 for the Threshers?
I think a manager can play a huge role in winning, but the players ultimately play the game. Hupp is a great manager, his past two seasons and his career speak for itself. Hupp was pretty simple, he let us play and when something needed to be fixed or corrected, he would do it. He wouldn’t instruct for the sake of instructing. As long as we played hard and did the little things, he was fine with that.
Within the Phillies organization who have you been able to look to as a mentor whether that be a coach, a manager, a minor league instructor, a peer or another player?
There are a few people that I have looked to as I guess somewhat of a mentor. Kevin Jordan, our hitting guy in low-a was pretty good. He played in the big leagues and had been thru the same things that a lot of us players have gone through. Donny Long, now with the Pirates, did a lot for me. He was great at simplifying things for me, helping me slow down, and really learn to become a better hitter. Bill Dancy, field coordinator, has been a big help. He’s been in the game for a long time and has helped in all facets of my game.
After such a successful 2007 both personally and team-wise what sort of goals do you have for yourself in 2008?
One goal I have for the 2008 season is to become a more consistent player. Consistency is what keeps you in the game and moving up in the game. Keep a consistent approach offensively, and become more consistent defensively. I got a lot better when I moved up to Clearwater and basically I want to to keep working off that. Another goal is also to move up a level each year and try to get that much closer to the big leagues.
I know you had a few at bats during last ST with the Phillies, but is this your first full ST with the club, or did you get to go through everything last year as well?
This is my first big league camp, it has been a great learning experience thus far. Getting a chance to see what these guys do on a day in and day out experience, how they approach the game, the way they approach a game is a great learning experience. I have really enjoyed getting to pick guys brains whether its defensively or at the plate, base running or about certain opposing pitchers.
The Phillies middle infield seems pretty secure with Utley at second and Rollins at SS. Has the organization talked with you at all about a move to either third or the OF? What would your reaction be to a position change?
The middle is pretty secure, but at the same time my approach has been to take care of my business and everything else will take care of itself. I haven’t been approached for a position change, but one would help me get there, then i would gladly do it. But I would like to stay at short for as long as possible.
Would you prefer a utility role, being available to a variety of positions, or would you prefer to master a specific role?
I would like to be a guy that can stay at one position and be an every day guy. But if I got to play in the big leagues as a utility guy, I would take it.