It was only a matter of time until Brendan Donovan found his rhythm in the batter’s box.
The No. 18 Cardinals prospect broke out with a trio of hits as Glendale beat Surprise, 6-4, on Saturday night at Surprise Stadium.
Donovan, who is coming off the best statistical season of his professional career, went hitless through his first six at-bats in the Arizona Fall League before collecting three straight hits Saturday. Of course, six at-bats can hardly be considered a slump or a slow start, but that doesn’t mean the 2018 Draft pick wasn’t happy to get his first hits.
“Anytime you can get a first hit, whether it’s a promotion or a new season, it’s kind of a sigh of relief,” Donovan said. “It’s good to get the timing back and get back in the baseball swing of things. That helps a lot.”
Donovan doubled and scored in the fifth, drove in a run with a base hit in the sixth and then led off the eighth with another single.
A strong showing in the AFL would help elevate Donovan’s stock as the 24-year-old doesn’t have much experience against advanced competition in the upper levels of the Minors. The experience he does have, however, is encouraging.
Working his way up from High-A Peoria to Triple-A Memphis in 2021, Donovan slashed .304/.399/.455, all of which were career-high marks.
The South Alabama product also set career bests in homers (12), RBIs (66) and was named the Triple-A East Offensive Player of the Week in mid-September.
“I think the numbers were good, but as a competitor, there are some things I see in my game that I still want to improve on,” Donovan said. “After playing in High-A, Double-A and then getting the nod to Triple-A, it was cool. I learned more than I thought I could, so I’m just looking to keep learning.”
In addition to getting more at-bats against top arms, Donovan is looking to gain more experience defensively.
A utility player, Donovan played six positions this past season and while he’s been lauded for his work ethic, six positions is a lot to master.
“The only positions I didn’t play this season are pitcher, catcher and centerfield,” Donovan said. “So, I’m just getting a ton of reps at [multiple positions] so that when I do get there in the regular season it doesn’t feel foreign.”
While Donovan and the Glendale offense finished strong, they got off to a slow start as Surprise starter James Marinan twirled a gem for the Saguaros.
Making his first start of the Fall, Marinan retired the first 10 batters he faced. A pair of runners were all Glendale could muster against the Cincinnati prospect, who struck out two, threw 36 of his 57 pitches for strikes and gave up just one hit over four scoreless innings.
Once Marinan was lifted, Glendale took over.
Jeremiah Jackson drove in the Desert Dogs’ first run of the game on a groundout and an error allowed a second run to score in the fifth. Astros' No. 23 prospect Grae Kessinger and Donovan drove home runs in the sixth, and an error and a balk pushed a pair of insurance runs across in the eighth.