Jan. 19, 2009
Todd Donovan `99 agreed to a minor-league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night, his seventh professional organization in his 11-year minor league career.
The 30-year-old will report to spring training next month in Dunedin, Fla. Donovan, a 1996 East Lyme High School (Conn.) graduate who was an eighth-round draft choice of the San Diego Padres in 1999 out of Siena, said a variety of reasons led to him picking the Blue Jays.
"I had bites from a couple of teams," Donovan told the New London Day in a recent interview. "A lot of it was a willingness to play in Double A and maybe coach down the road. ... The older I get, the more the window closes, so to speak."
The Blue Jays' Double A affiliate is the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Eastern League, but Donovan has his sights set on Triple A Las Vegas, where Toronto's Triple A team moved beginning this season after 30 years in Syracuse.
He batted .378 during a brief stint in Las Vegas in 2005 while in the Dodgers' system.
"Having experience with those kinds of distractions may have led them to offering a contract," Donovan told The Day. "I'm going to spring training thinking I'm going to Vegas. That's how I'm looking at it."
Donovan batted .274 with a team-best 37 stolen bases in just 79 games last year for Double A Midland in the Oakland system.
"Toronto has a lot of players they've drafted and spent money on and are committed to. I could go to Triple A and hit .900 and it wouldn't matter. It's very rare for a minor league free agent to come into an organization and take a spot away from an organizational guy. I need to be exposed to major league staff and major league guys. I need to show the organization that I have something to offer that they don't have."
Donovan, who has battled numerous injuries in 10 years playing professionally, said speaking and working at last weekend's World Baseball Coaches' Convention at Mohegan Sun helped his situation.
"Considering what I've been through over the years, it's something that gets my juices flowing again and lets me know baseball is right around the corner," Donovan said. "And it's a great place to reconnect with baseball people."
Donovan will be looking to join John Lannan '05 as a former Saint currently in the Major Leagues. He would be the fifth Siena player to make it to the highest level, joining Billy Harrell (Indians), Gary Holle (Rangers) and Tim Christman (Rockies).