Thursday, July 9, 2015

Faith Academy's Josh Donaldson to start in MLB All Star Game

The starters for the July 14 Major League Baseball All Star game were announced on Sunday night and those 17 players come from all over the map, including one with strong ties to Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

The American League starters include Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, Angles outfielder Mike Trout, Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, Royals outfielder Alex Gordon and Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

The National League starters include Giants catcher Buster Posey, Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta, National outfielder Bryce Harper, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday and Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.

What’s interesting to me is that six of the 17 starters (over 35 percent) were born outside the United States. Perez, Cabrera, Altuve and Escobar were all born in Venezuela. (In fact, Cabrera and Altuve were both born in the same city, Maracay, Venezuela.) Peralta and Cruz were both born in the Dominica Republic.

Three states can boast two natives each among the starters in this year’s All Star Game. Frazier and Trout were born in New Jersey. Posey and Cain are from Georgia, and Dee Gordon and Donaldson were both born in Florida.

Stanton was born in California. Goldschmidt was born in Delaware, but raised in Texas. Alex Gordon is from Nebraska, and Harper’s from Nevada. Holliday is from Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Alabama can make a strong case for claiming 29-year-old Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson was born in Pensacola on Dec. 8, 1985, but he attended Faith Academy in Mobile, where he was the AISA Player of the Year and the Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year during his senior season. He was also an outstanding football and basketball player at Faith.

Donaldson went on to play catcher and as an infielder for Auburn University before being drafted in the first round of the 2007 Major League Draft by the Chicago Cubs. Donaldson spent a few seasons in the minor leagues before making his professional debut on April 30, 2010 as a pinch hitter for the Oakland Athletics. He was traded to the Blue Jays on Nov. 28, 2014.

This year’s All Star Game, which will be played in Cincinnati, will be Donaldson’s second All Star start at third base for the American League. When the final votes were counted, the results showed that Donaldson had actually received the most votes of any player in the history of the All Star Game. In all, he received over 14 million votes, breaking the record of over 11 million votes set by Josh Hamilton in 2012.

Each league can have 34 players on their respective All Star rosters, so as of Monday, 51 players were yet to be named as All Stars, aside from those players mentioned above. The reserves, pitchers and Final Vote candidates were to be announced on ESPN on Monday night. Five players from each league will be named as Final Vote candidates and fans can cast their votes for those players through tomorrow (Friday) at 4 p.m.

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