The 2023 fantasy baseball draft season is fully underway and as you research for draft day there is no better way to get ready than with the FREE Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Baseball Draft guide. Now is the time to begin fantasy baseball mock drafts as well as diving into fantasy baseball player rankings and MLB Projections to set up your entire draft plan. Tuesday will be Third Base Day and this week we continue the Positional Spotlight series, where we will have individual player profiles, rookie breakdowns and more.  One player that is creating a buzz across the Grapefruit League is multi-positional second-year player Brendan Donovan of the St. Louis Cardinals. Donovan is having a potent spring training, as he is tied for the league leads with four home runs (one fewer than he had in 126 games as a rookie) and 10 RBIs and doing so while maintaining a high slash line of .310/.355/.724 with a 1.079 OPS. 

 

 

2023 MLB Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight

Brendan Donovan, St. Louis Cardinals

Since 2019, between adding seasoned major league talent through trades and developing homegrown talent through the farm system the Cardinals have become one of the deepest organizations in baseball. They continue to be competitive every season and this year should be no different, especially with players like utility man Donovan who is putting the league on notice that he is ready to be one of the next great Cardinals.  

Donovan was selected by the Cardinals in the 7th round (213rd overall pick) of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft after three years at South Alabama. He was drafted as an outfielder but played third base, shortstop, and right field in his career with the Jaguars. While slashing .302/.456/.480 with 17 doubles, five home runs and 55 RBIs for the Jaguars in his third and final year Donovan was a second-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection and made the Sun Belt all-tournament team.

After losing the 2020 minor league season due to Covid, Donovan took some major strides in his career trajectory in 2021 when he moved up three levels in the organization, beginning the year at Peoria, spending much of the summer at Springfield and finishing the year at Memphis. During that 2021 season he developed an ability to be able to move all over the baseball field and between the three minor league levels, he started games at all four infield spots plus in left field, right field and as a designated hitter. Donovan also had a big season offensively and overall, he posted a .304 average with 12 homers, 66 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 108 games.

Brendan Donovan Minor League Stats (per Baseball Reference)

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One of the top storylines of the Cardinals Spring Training 2023 version is the battle between Donovan and Tommy Edman for the leadoff spot in the Red Birds batting lineup. Just being able to hit in front of the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Nolen Arenado, and Willson Contreras gives a hitter100 runs built into their statistical profile. Donovan’s on-base ability in 2022 was outstanding and per FanGraphs he led all rookies with a .389 mark which ranked 92nd among all rookies with at least 400 plate appearances in their first season since 1887. So obviously the .389 OBP was better than both Rookie of The Year winners (Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez at .345 and Atlanta’s Michael Harris at .339).

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Donovan was one of only eight players that ended the 2022 season in the 90th percentile in both chase rate and whiff rate which is a symbol of extreme plate discipline and contact ability. Now check this out - Donovan slashed .222/.352/.637 with an unbelievable .352 OBP with two strikes on him (.312 OBP was the league average starting with a 0-0 count!). As a comparison, the league slashed .168/.242/.505 with two strikes and that is what you want in your top-of-the-lineup table setter.  

Donovan’s rookie season was one of the best by a Cardinal in quite a few years.  His final slash line was .281/.394/.379 with a .773 OPS and 126 OPS+ which was pretty darn good for a first-year player. Even better is the fact that he can play anywhere as he is eligible at second base, third base and the outfield in NFBC leagues. He is one of only six players since 1980 to win a Gold Glove as rookie and finished in third place in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. 

Donovan just became the fourth (current or former) Cardinal to undergo an analysis at Marucci Sports’ Baseball Performance Lab. The other Cards are Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Matt Carpenter and we all know how well they hit in 2022.  At the lab Donovan learned that he had more power than he even knew. They also changed his batting stance to a more upright position and switched him to a “puck knob bat” that Goldschmidt and Arenado have already used to major success. With Donovan’s current NFBC ADP at 320 (it was at 346 in mid-February), he is basically a free-square in fantasy baseball drafts and if he can add a little pop this year then we have a new Cardinals star in the making that will make fantasy managers extremely happy in September.

 

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