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Thought it would be fun to relive an old Top Prospect Alert report on Red Sox folk hero Darnell McDonald. This was originally published back in 2000. Enjoy.

Top Prospect Alert

Darnell McDonald -- By Robert Sherry

One of the top athletes at an level of the minors, Darnell is still trying to make the transaction from a star athlete to a baseball player that puts up results. He fell out of the 1st round in the 1997 draft due to a commitment to play football at the University of Texas. However, the Orioles took a chance and selected him, eventually signing him to a $1.9 million bonus.

He is slowly starting to turn all of that talent into results on the diamond. At Fredrick in 1999, Darnell has hit .266 with 6 HR's, 73 RBI, 23 doubles, 5 triples, 61 BB's, 92 K's, and 26 SB's in 507 AB's. His average was as high as .283 in August, but went into a slump to end the season and eventually landed below .270. Darnell played in the California Fall League and hit .238. The 20 year old spent 1998 at Delmarva. For the Shorebirds, he batted .261 in 528 AB's. McDonald added 24 doubles, 5 triples, 6 HR's, 87 runs scored, 44 RBI, 33 BB's, 117 K's, and 35 steals. He had a late promotion to Fredrick and ended up logging 18 AB's, where he hit .222 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 doubles, 3 runs scored, 2 steals, 6 K's, and 3 BB's over the 4 games. He has cut down the strikouts and increased the walks, but he still needs to continue to improve as well as continue to improve his defense in the outfield.

Darnell reminds me a bit of Braves prospect George Lombard in that they are both very talented athletes who are hevily recruited out of high school to play football. Instead of chosing that path, both have focused on trying their skills at baseball. I do not see McDonald advancing as quickly through the system as some of their other top players (Matt Riley, Jerry Hairston) as his baseball skills are still raw. Dernell has all the ability to become an exciting player in a few of years, if all goes well. He will not be rushed and will probably need season of learning at each level. Look for him to get his chance in Baltimore sometime around 2002, maybe a late callup in 2001.

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