Nobody foresaw St. Louis Cardinals rookie Brendan Donovan’s season so far — except one prospect maven.
While San Diego Padres pitcher Mackenzie Gore is probably the frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year at this point, that shouldn’t take away from how St. Louis Cardinals infielder Brendan Donovan has performed. He’s hitting .312 in 205 plate appearances as of this article’s writing, and he’s found everyday at-bats thanks to his ability to play almost anywhere on the field.
But if you’re a fan of the Cardinals, you’ve already seen what he’s done. It’s a lot harder to predict what a player will do, and almost nobody thought twice about Donovan when he was knocking on the major league door. “Just another utility player to throw on the pile,” I thought. “Maybe Edman-light if we’re lucky.”
But credit where it’s due: Tieran Alexander saw much more in Donovan.
Alexander listed 200 players in his article on MLB prospects, which he published in March. I read every entry in part 1 and part 2 the article, and Donovan, listed at No. 83, was probably the biggest surprise there.
In the summary section, Alexander mentioned Donovan being the oldest player on the list at age 25. This might have knocked him off of some scouts’ and fans’ radars when they evaluated prospects. Alexander cited statistics such as Donovan’s above-average chase rate. We’re seeing it in action now as he’s piling up the walks in the big leagues and grinding out competitive at-bats.
Just about everything Alexander wrote has proven to be spot-on with Donovan in the major leagues, from his tendency to shoot the ball to the opposite field to his elite contact rate and willingness to walk. The only part that has yet to come to fruition is the power that Alexander thinks Donovan has a chance to show, even though he said it will likely remain below average. There is still plenty of time for that to develop, though.
Was Alexander lucky in his prediction? Maybe, but I think he dug deeper and saw things in Donovan that others dismissed or just didn’t see. If Donovan continues to produce, as Alexander thinks he will, he will be a key cog in the Cardinals’ lineup down the stretch.