With Major League Baseball’s Annual Organizational All-Star lists revealed earlier this week, the 2014 Stockton Ports roster has surely left an imprint within the Oakland Athletics organization.
Out of the twelve players named to the list, nine were represented by Ports players. This included almost the entire Ports infield, consisting of first baseman Matt Olson, second baseman Chad Pinder, shortstop Daniel Robertson, and third baseman Renato Nunez.
The selections of Robertson, Olson, and Nunez should come as no surprise as all three players represented numbers one through three on the A’s top prospects list.
As the top prospect in the A’s organization, Robertson showed his versatility at the shortstop position and was a natural behind the plate, having hit .310 and led the Cal League with 170 hits at just 20 years of age.
Olson and Nunez paved the way for the Ports’ power as Olson led all of Class A with 37 home runs and completed the season with 97 RBI. Olson’s plate discipline also played a role in the slugger’s success as he finished with a total of 117 walks.
Renato Nunez, while starting off slow, finished the season as one of the Cal League’s hottest hitters smashing 20 home runs in 64 games. Nunez capped off the year with 29 total home runs and 96 RBI. Ports second baseman Chad Pinder also showed signs of power by belting 13 home runs and 55 total RBI in just 94 games.
While the Ports infield took most of the spotlight throughout the season, the Ports outfield also represented a bright spot.
Outfielders Jaycob Brugman and Boog Powell landed on the list, as well as utility player Tyler Marincov. Starting out the 2014 MiLB season, all three outfielders were with the Class A Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League.
Powell, currently ranked as the Athletics #20 overall prospect, led the organization with a .343 batting average to go along with a .908 OPS. Powell was also named the Midwest League All-Star MVP before being promoted to Stockton.
Brugman and Marincov had similar stories. Marincov may have only played 17 games in Stockton in 2014, but he was able to finish a full season with 18 home runs, 18 stolen bases and 77 RBI in a total of 127 regular season games.
Jaycob Brugman spent the most time playing in Stockton in 2014 out of the three outfielders with a total of 50 games. Brugman was able to display his power in 2014 and finished the season with 21 total home runs and 72 RBI, along with a .280 average.
Pitchers Chris Lamb and Austin House also rounded out the list with Lamb representing the left-handed pitching prospects in the organization and House representing relievers. Lamb had similar stories to the outfielders on the list as he, too, began the season in Beloit. Lamb was perhaps had the strongest arm on the pitching staff, finishing 4-5 with a 3.24 ERA in 19 starts for the Ports and tied for first in the Athletics organization with 134 strikeouts.
Austin House was a shut-down reliever for the Ports in 2014, finishing with an astounding 82 strikeouts in just 61 2/3 innings pitched. House led the A’s minors with 19 saves to compliment his 3-4 record and 3.06 ERA in 50 appearances.
House, along with Matt Olson, Boog Powell, and Daniel Robertson, is representing the Mesa Solar Sox on their Arizona Fall League roster.
Early in the season, Ports first baseman Matt Olson established himself as a power-hitter with a great defensive skill set. Olson completed 2014 just three home runs shy of breaking the Ports’ all-time home run record during a single season, which was set by Chris Carter at 39 in 2008.
Carter is currently coming off of a 37 home run season with the Houston Astros, something Olson mirrored in 2014 with 37 home runs of his own, a feat that made him the Joe Bauman Class A leader in that very same offensive category.
Olson is currently ranked as the number two overall prospect in the Athletics organization, and number 98 overall in Major League Baseball’s top 100 prospect list.
Throughout the season, Olson proved to be an asset to the Ports in the batter’s box, with 97 RBI, and on the field, as the 6 foot 4 lefty helped complete a historic Ports’ triple play on July 10th and ended the season with a .993 fielding percentage at first base.
Following the end of the season, Olson had the opportunity to visit his native state of Georgia. “It was good getting a few weeks at home to see friends and family.”
However, baseball was still on his mind. “[I] just stayed on top of the hitting and stayed in shape during my time off before the Fall League.”
The Baseball America and MiLB Post-Season All-Star is now gearing up for the Arizona Fall League with the Mesa Solar Sox. Olson will be joined by fellow 2014 Ports Austin House, Boog Powell, and Daniel Robertson.
When asked about his experience with the Ports, the 2014 California League home run king explained that “[he] had a blast with the Ports this year. [The] amazing group of guys made it fun going on the field every day.”
In Powell’s 14 games with Stockton, the Oakland A’s 20th overall prospect produced a .377 batting average with 11 RBI, two doubles, and a triple. Prior to joining the Ports, Powell served the majority of the season with the Class-A Beloit Snappers, hitting .335 with 17 RBI, which rightfully earned him a Midwest League All-Star nod.
While representing the Midwest League, Powell knocked in two runs with a double, scored three times, and had two stolen bases – one of which was at home. With a stellar All-Star Game performance, Powell was donned the Midwest League All-Star MVP.
Following the end of the 2014 season, Powell visited his native Southern California and spent time at the beach relaxing before the grind of fall instructional leagues began.
“The offseason has been good. I went home for a week, was at the beach every day, then drove out here to Arizona [where I’ve] been practicing at Instructs getting ready for Fall League,” said Powell of his offseason thus far.
Currently, Powell is at the Athletics’ Fall Instructional League in Arizona, alongside the familiar faces of outfielders Tyler Marincov and Jaycob Brugman, in addition to the Ports’ 2014 manager, Ryan Christenson.
Powell notes his most memorable moment of the 2014 season as his first game with the Ports, when he went 3-5 with a game-tying RBI single. The outfielder went on to score the go-ahead run in the 10th inning for an 8-7 win against the Lancaster JetHawks.
During the Arizona Fall League, which kicks off on Tuesday, October 7th, Powell will be representing the Athletics on the Mesa Solar Sox with fellow 2014 Ports Austin House, Matt Olson, and Daniel Robertson.
With Sunday’s win, the Oakland A’s officially secured their spot in the 2014 MLB postseason, a feat that the organization has been quite familiar with, marking the third straight season the team has qualified for the playoffs.
The A’s will now take on the Royals Tuesday night on the road in Kansas City in a one-game, winner-take-all matchup. While the A’s prepare for Tuesday, veterans such as Sean Doolittle and Josh Donaldson will surely be looked upon for their contribution, something both players have done in 2014 for the Athletics.
Both Donaldson and Doolittle were named to the American League All-Star game this season, a first for both players, along with five other A’s players. The success that both players showed in 2014 mirrored the talent they demonstrated while playing in Stockton.
Donaldson, after being traded to the A’s organization from the Chicago Cubs, displayed power from the start while in Stockton, posting a .330 batting average, along with 9 home runs and 39 RBI in a 47 game span for the Ports. Fast forward four years later, Donaldson was called up to the A’s organization and only a year later posted a .301 average to go with 24 home runs and 93 RBI, a feat that propelled him to a 4th place finish in AL MVP votes. In 2014, Donaldson continued to display his power and finished with 29 home runs and 98 RBI.
Doolittle’s two stints in Stockton also proved to be crucial experience when arriving in Oakland. In 2008, Doolittle along with Chris Carter set the all-time Ports’ home run record for a duo (56) which was eventually broken in 2014 by Ports sluggers Matt Olson and Renato Nunez.
Starting his career over as a pitcher, Doolittle logged only 26 innings in 2012 in the Minor’s while making appearances in Stockton, Midland, and Sacramento before getting the call to join the A’s. 2014 has been a very successful season for Doolittle as the pitcher finished with a 2.73 ERA and 89 strike outs in 62.2 innings pitched. Opposing hitters are batting just .169 against Doolittle, who signed a five-year extension with Oakland this season.
Other Athletics on the 2014 postseason roster that helped contribute to the Ports in 2014 were second baseman Alberto Callaspo, outfielder Josh Reddick, and pitchers Ryan Cook and Eric O’Flaherty. All players at one point during the 2014 season made rehab appearances in Stockton.
With Tuesday night approaching and the A’s preparing for Kansas City, they will surely rely on their stars that got them to the playoffs, including Ports Alumni Donaldson and Doolittle.
The Stockton Ports would like to wish the Oakland Athletics the best of luck in the 2014 MLB Postseason.
From Banner Island Ballpark to the Coliseum, Sean Doolittle, like many other players within the Oakland A’s organization, spent part of his professional baseball career playing in Stockton.
Long before signing a five year extension worth $10.5 million or becoming a fan favorite amongst A’s supporters, Doolittle was just another Minor League ballplayer looking to break through and get a chance of a lifetime.
For Doolittle, the move did not come as easily as he would have expected. As a first round draft pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Virginia, Doolittle originally came up as a position player before switching over as a pitcher due to knee problems.
Coming up all over again in the Minors as a pitcher seemed almost too easy for Doolittle. After only 26 innings pitched during the 2012 season, which included stops in Stockton, Midland, and Sacramento, Doolittle was called up to the majors on June 4, 2012.
Fast-forward two seasons and Doolittle continues to make headlines for the A’s and has steadily become a fan favorite. With popular catch phrases such as “What would Doo do”, as well as a rock star-like Twitter account, Doolittle remains humble and is thankful of the time he spent in Stockton.
“Playing in Stockton was great, we got great support from the community,” said Doolittle. After playing in Stockton, Midland, and Sacramento, Doolittle still says Stockton was his favorite and most memorable stint in Minor League Baseball.
“That for sure was one of the best stops I had in the Minor Leagues as I was making my way up. I really enjoyed it there.”
In 2014, Doolittle has found a permanent home in Oakland and continues to showcase his wonderful skill set. In 60.2 IP, Doolittle has shut down opposing hitters with an impressive 2.82 ERA and 22 saves along with 87K.
With the Athletics 1 game up in the Wild Card, Oakland will be sure to look to their seasoned vet for guidance down the stretch as the A’s look to seal a third straight trip to the post season, a challenge Doolittle will surely be up for.
Through it all, Doolittle remains humble and ready for any challenge thrown at him, something he attributes to playing in Stockton.
“I learned a lot while I was in Stockton; it was definitely a very valuable experience, so I feel that I wouldn’t be here today without a lot of the stuff I learned while I was there.”
While the Ports ultimate goal of a league-leading 12th California League Championship fell short, players and fans alike can walk away smiling at the valiant effort shown by the team that many have dubbed the future of the Oakland Athletics’ organization.
Coming into the start of the season, the Ports’ franchise had been experiencing a playoff drought, something that seemed a bit odd for an organization who leads the California League with 11 league titles. The last playoff season Stockton put together was back in 2011, in which they lost to the Lake Elsinore Storm in the California League Championship round.
With the conclusion of spring training, the Ports’ roster formed a young squad that featured several top prospects of the Athletics’ organization. Such stars included shortstop Daniel Robertson, first baseman Matt Olson, and third baseman Renato Nunez, to name just a few.
The Ports were led by first-year manager Ryan Christenson, who came to the Ports from Beloit after putting together a highly successful 2013 season for the Snappers which included a second-round playoff berth. Many of the players Christenson managed were now with him in Stockton.
With the elevated level of talent on the 2014 Ports roster, many people within the organization had high hopes going into the season, but with a team that featured so many young prospects, the approach was still a “wait and see” type of outlook.
As the Ports began the season on the road in Visalia and Bakersfield, Opening Night at Banner Island Ballpark finally arrived with the Ports taking on the Rawhide on April 10th, marking the 73rd season of Stockton Ports Baseball in the California League. The game, much like the Ports’ season, proved to be a marathon, with the Ports putting everything on the line to walk away with a win. After 18 innings of play, Ports OF Billy McKinney had a walk-off base hit to seal the victory for the Ports.
While fans eagerly awaited fireworks that night following the victory, the wait for the Ports’ internal fireworks as a team proved to be an even longer wait.
Throughout the early stages of the season, the team showed flashes of brilliance, putting together a 6 game winning streak in April, and another six-game winning streak less than two weeks later in May. However, inconsistent play kept the Ports at .500 baseball for the better part of the first half of the season.
Both the Ports’ offense and pitching played a pivotal part in helping the team’s first-half run but never seemed to really sync up. Inconsistency was often displayed as the Ports dropped crucial first-half series to teams they were very capable of beating, including the Inland Empire 66’ers and Modesto Nuts.
While the Ports never really seemed to be able to get over the .500 hump for much of the first half, several players began contributing. Ports pitcher Seth Streich set the tone early as the team’s ace, and catcher Bruce Maxwell proved to be one of the most dangerous catchers in the league, throwing out base runners with ease. Both players represented the Ports in the 2014 California-Carolina League All-Star game. Maxwell was eventually promoted to Double-A Midland, while a second-half injury finished Streich’s season earlier than expected.
Ports position players Daniel Robertson and Chad Pinder provided the Ports with consistent offense for the first half and quickly became one of the most feared offenses in the league. Ports slugger Matt Olson also contributed to the Ports team total of 174 home runs (good for second in the league) as his power helped push the Ports forward. Other players including Aaron Shipman, Billy McKinney, Ryon Healy, and Bobby Crocker contributed to the Ports’ offense as well. A mid-season promotion from Beloit to Stockton for Ports pitcher Chris Lamb and a trade for Jake Sanchez also helped pave the way for the Ports and improve their pitching tremendously.
As the first half wrapped up, the Ports started to play consistent baseball and finished with an overall 37-33 record, good for second place behind first-half champions Bakersfield Blaze. Stockton’s record proved to be the highest wins over .500 they amassed all season long.
The same Ports team that struggled to finally reach a record above .500 in the first half looked like a different team at the start of the second half of the season. Stockton rattled off an impressive 9-game winning streak which spanned from June 13th to June 25th and helped propel them to the top of the standings board in the second half of the season, something they never gave up.
Ports third baseman Renato Nunez caught fire and quickly became the California League pitcher’s public enemy number one. At the All-Star break, Nunez was hitting just .255 with 9 home runs and 29 RBI. By season’s end, he finished with a .279 average along with 29 home runs and 96 RBI. Nunez was added to the World Team in the 2014 MLB Futures All-Star Game, marking the second straight season a Ports player participated.
Matt Olson also kept fans paying attention with his league-leading 37 home runs (two shy of tying the Ports all-time record) and 117 walks.
On July 4th, a trade between the Athletics and Cubs, which sent Ports OF Billy McKinney to Daytona Beach and A’s top prospect Addison Russell to Tennessee, shook things up a bit for Stockton. However, the Ports were able to rebound quickly. Outfielder Jaycob Brugman was called up from Beloit and provided the Ports with a solid offensive output and at one point smashed 10 home runs in 11 games down the stretch. Daniel Robertson took over as the A’s number one prospect and carried the load, finishing with a .310 batting average, 15 HR, and 60 RBI while providing solid defense at the shortstop position.
In the end, it was the Ports’ pitching that was vital in helping maintain a first place standing in the California North Division. Overall, the pitching staff posted a 4.08 ERA, good for first place in the league, largely in part due to a solid bullpen which put up 3.71 ERA in 517.1 innings pitched.
With more than a week remaining in the regular season, the Ports clinched a second-half division championship and finished with a league best 85-55 overall record.
The second-half surge of the Ports was so dominant that they finished nine games above San Jose and Visalia in the race for the crown.
Ultimately, the Ports fell short and were swept by the Visalia Rawhide in the first round of the playoffs to end the season. While the race for a title ended abruptly, the team that dominated the California League at one point featured 13 of the Athletics’ top 20 organizational prospects, something that will have A’s fans excited about for years to come.
Standout Position Players:
Jaycob Brugman, OF
.282, 13 HR, 35 RBI
Currently ranked the A’s 19th top prospect, Brugman became an asset for the Ports in the outfield and at the plate after his promotion from Low-A Beloit on July 7th, most notably from August 6th to August 18th when Brugman hit ten home runs in just eleven games.
Ryon Healy, IF
.285, 16 HR, 83 RBI
The California native, currently ranked as the 17th prospect, led the California League in at-bats (561) and saw a 21-game hit streak from August 7th through August 30th, when he hit .344 during the league’s longest streak of the season.
Renato Nunez, IF
.279, 29 HR, 96 RBI
Nunez, the A’s third top prospect, ranked fourth in the California League in home runs and fifth in RBI. After the All-Star break, the infielder hit 20 home runs and had three multi-run games, earning him the California League Player of the Week title for the week of June 23rd and a nod on the Post-Season All-Star Roster. Nunez also represented the World Team at this year’s All-Star Futures Game.
Matt Olson, IF
.262, 37 HR, 97 RBI
The A’s second top prospect finished the year as the California League’s home run leader (37) and Joe Bauman Award leader for Class-A. The Ports’ power-hitter also led the league in walks (117) and was named a Post-Season All-Star.
Chad Pinder, IF
.288, 13 HR, 55 RBI
Ranked as the A’s sixth prospect, Pinder started off the season hot, ending April with a .324 batting average, having hit 7 of his 13 home runs on the season during that month. While an injury from June 28th-July 16th sidelined the infielder, he ultimately acquired the team’s second highest batting average.
Daniel Robertson, IF
.310, 15 HR, 60 RBI
Robertson became the A’s top prospect after Addison Russell’s trade to the White Sox and quickly backed up his new title. The shortstop had an 18-game hit streak from July 26th-August 14th and ended the season as the California League leader in hits (170).
Austin House, RHP
54.2 IP, 3.46 ERA, 19 SV
The right-handed pitcher acquired 19 saves on the year, tying him for second in the California League. With a strong arm out of the bullpen, House led relievers in strikeouts (79).
Chris Lamb, LHP
19 GS, 4-5, 3.21 ERA
On two separate occasions, Lamb won the honor of California League Pitcher of the Week, allowing no earned runs during his combined 14 innings during the weeks of July 14th and July 28th. The Ports looked to Lamb in game two of the playoff mini-series, who shutout Visalia until the fifth inning, ultimately allowing two earned runs in his 5.2 innings pitched.
Jake Sanchez, RHP
12 GS, 8-2, 3.42 ERA
After joining the Ports in mid-June, Sanchez quickly became a solid starter for the team with his 8-2 record on the season, tying him for second in the wins column for the Ports’ pitching staff.
Seth Streich, RHP
22 GS, 9-6, 3.16 ERA
Currently ranked as the A’s eighth prospect and third pitching prospect, Streich quickly became the Ports’ most consistent starter before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season on July 29th. Streich represented the Ports at the California-Carolina League All-Star Game, was named as a Post-Season All-Star, and led the California League in ERA (3.16) in 2014.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s, a duo of young Oakland A’s players captured the attention of the Bay Area, smashing home runs at will. That duo, known as the “Bash Brothers”, was compiled of A’s sluggers Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.
More than 20 years later, a new duo of young up and coming A’s hopefuls are bringing back the magic that captured the hearts of Athletics fans everywhere.
Ports first baseman (2nd overall A’s prospect) Matt Olson and third baseman Renato Nunez (3rd overall A’s prospect) are slugging their way into the Ports history books.
As of Thursday, August 21st, the tag-team duo has smashed a total of 65 home runs and are currently ranked number one and tied for second respectively, in the California League for home runs (Olson has 36 and Nunez has 29).
With Nunez’s 27th home run on Friday, August 1st, the Venezuelan born third baseman put the Bash Brothers 2.0 in the Ports history books. Before the 2014 season began, the record for most home runs in a season by a Ports duo was set by 2008 players Chris Carter and Sean Doolittle with a total of 57 home runs. That season, Carter went on to pass the Ports’ single season home run record with 39 homers.
The Ports currently post a 76-53 record, good for first overall in the California League on top of a 39-20 second half record, good for a first place standing by 5.0 games. Much of the success can attributed to Olson and Nunez’s high-powered offense which has helped the Ports power through a long season of baseball.
Nunez has been automatic since the All-Star break, posting .284 batting average on the season. With already impressive numbers, when you compare that to the 9 home runs and 29 RBI he posted in the first 60 games of the season, the progress is eye popping.
While Olson’s batting average of .254 could always use some room for improvement, the Georgia born prospect’s on base percentage of .400 and 110 total walks are beyond impressive. Olson has also placed himself in prime position to break Chris Carter’s home run record.
With 11 games remaining in the regular season, Olson needs just 3 home runs to tie the record, and48 to pass it, something that very easily could be obtained.
Both prospects are just twenty years of age and show a promising future that has excited fans from the Central Valley to the East Bay.
As quoted by MiLB.com, Ports manager Ryan Christenson who managed both players last season in Beloit sees a competitive but friendly nature between both players. “I definitely think that they do feed off of each other, they have a great friendship and competitive relationship when it comes to that. I think they feed off of each other, and it pushes their performance up a notch because of it.”
While many Ports fans are excited at the possibility of ending a two year playoff drought, many will also be excited at the prospect of seeing one, if not both, players become a part of Ports history.
With Matt Olson just ahead of Chris Carter’s 2008 home run pace, he has a legitimate shot at taking the home run crown for the Ports.
Nunez however, has kept a steady pace with his counterpart and has demonstrated his power each night.
While it has been several years since fans got a chance to witness the raw power of McGwire and Canseco, Olson and Nunez are certainly making enough noise on their paths to the big leagues, something A’s fans will be sure to take notice of.
At the start of this season’s All-Star break (June 14th), Renato was hitting a pedestrian .255 to go along with 9 home runs and 29 RBI. Since the break, Nunez has been a force to be reckoned with for the Ports and a nightmare for opposing pitchers across the California League.
As of July 9th, Nunez has raised his batting average to .286, along with 20 home runs and 57 RBI, an increase of 28 RBI and 11 home runs in less than three weeks.
What’s even more impressive is that in the three week span, Nunez has had three multi-HR games, an accomplishment that he had only reached twice during the entire 2013 season in Beloit.
Nunez’s success has been no surprise to the Oakland Athletics who signed the Venezuelan born prospect at the young age of sixteen. At only twenty years of age, Nunez continues to be a bright spot in a talented pool of prospects within Oakland’s organization.
Currently ranked as the Athletics’ 4th overall prospect behind teammates Daniel Robertson and Matt Olson, Nunez’s strong 2014 season with the Ports has made his selection to the 2014 MLB Future’s Game an easy one.
Nunez will be representing the World Team, and with the selection he became the second Ports player in back-to-back years to join a Futures roster (Addison Russell-2013).
While many young prospects tend to go through growing pains in their transition to big league ball, Renato has steadily improved in each of his professional seasons.
As a key piece of the puzzle to 2013’s Beloit Snapper’s playoff team that featured several current Ports, Renato continues to lead the Ports to a successful run to the playoffs in 2014.
With nine of the Oakland A’s top 20 prospects on the Ports roster and four of the top ten prospects in the starting lineup, one can find it difficult to keep up with just about every player on this season’s star-studded cast.
Enter Aaron Shipman: the speedy left fielder from Quitman, Georgia who is quietly having himself an impressive season. After starting off fairly slow in the early stages of 2014, Shipman kicked it into high gear seemingly reaching base in nearly every possible way.
Shipman successfully raised his batting average to an impressive .282 mark until a nagging oblique injury in May forced him to miss nearly 30 games for the Ports.
Since returning to action, Shipman doesn’t seem to have missed a beat as his approach at the plate and aggressive base running has given the Ports an extra offensive boost on an already dangerous hitting team.
“Starting slow has been something I’ve done every single year. This year is different because my slow start didn’t last as long,” said Shipman. “I had a meeting with our manager and hitting coordinator near the end of April, and we discussed changing my approach. ‘Operation Hack Attack’ was the name of it. It was basically a call for me to be more aggressive and attack every strike with intentions of doing damage, no many mechanical adjustments at all.”
Shipman is currently hitting .301 for the Ports while stealing twelve bases on thirteen attempts, good for second on the team, along with having a .422 on base percentage.
What’s even more appealing is that Shipman is only 22 years of age, making him someone the A’s will be sure to keep a watchful eye on as he continues to develop. Since being drafted in 2010 in the third round out of Brooks County High School as an eighteen-year-old, Shipman has steadily progressed throughout the A’s organization.
In 2013, Shipman was a part of the successful Beloit team that consisted of many of the Ports’ current players. Shipman chipped in to the success of the team with a .279 batting average and 17 stolen bases.
“It feels amazing to take the field with such an amazing group of guys. This is by far the most talented team I’ve been a part of,” said Shipman when asked about the Ports success in 2014.
With Shipman back on the lineup card for the Ports, his enthusiasm for the game remains the same. “I am feeling great and ready to play when my name is on the lineup. God has really blessed me to be where I am and I owe everything to him.”
In 2008, a 23-year old by the name of Josh Donaldson arrived in Stockton after being traded to the A’s from the Chicago Cubs, the same organization that drafted him with the 48th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
Upon his arrival in Stockton, after playing half of the season with the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League, Donaldson’s confidence and baseball swag seen today was not yet present.
“One of the first days I arrived in Stockton, I wasn’t playing and was sitting the bench. I remember seeing Chris Carter hit probably a 500 foot home run and still, to this day, I remember saying to myself, I’ll probably never be able to play at the next level.”
Any confidence that Donaldson may have lacked at that time quickly vanished as the c
atcher (now third baseman) posted a .330 batting average, along with 9 home runs and 39 RBI in a 47 game span.
By 2012, Donaldson got the call he was waiting for and was promoted to the Oakland Athletic
s. By 2013 Donaldson capped off his MLB coming out party with a .301 average to go with 24 home runs and 93 RBI, a feat that propelled him to a 4th place finish in AL MVP votes.
Since making the transition from Minor League ball to the Majors, Donaldson continues to take it all in stride. “The biggest thing is that you have to enjoy the game and understand that it’s a long season and not focus on one specific play or one specific at bat.”
“The biggest difference between Minor League ball and Major League ball is that there’s a lot of outside pressure you have to deal with. In Stockton, everybody is there wishing you well. In the big leagues, everyone is trying to take your job and pick you apart, so you have to be prepared.”
The pressures Donaldson describe seem to be remote for the power hitting righty. Currently Donaldson has racked up 18 home runs and 56 RBI this season, which are numbers that could put him back in the running for an AL MVP award.
In the end, Josh still remains thankful to the fans that supported him during his tenure with the Ports.
“I really appreciated the time they spent coming to see us play and supporting us. I know they will continue to support the kids they have now and continue to cheer them on.”
On May 30th, the Ports honored Donaldson with a bobblehead night devoted to the A’s star, something Donaldson still finds a bit surreal.
“As a kid, you go to games and see bobblehead giveaways and things like that and think to yourself that it would be cool to have that happen to you. It’s really exciting, it really is one of those things that you would love to have happen but you don’t actually think it will.”