Our number one prospect's season was a shipwreck as he left the mound on April 30th after failing to make it out of the 2nd inning. He looked broken hearted as went into dugout and you had to wonder if he had the mental fortitude to be a big league pitcher. Joe Torre noticed and sent him to talk to Charlie Hough who had been his pitching coach and mentor during his climb up the minor league ladder. Eric Stephen caught up with Hough who said he thought it was simply a case of McDonald trying to do too much:
It can be a combination of both, where you start thinking about throwing strikes instead of making your pitch. You fall apart mechanically, and it's kind of a vicious circle.
When McDonald came back he had lost his spot in the rotation and was given a few token relief jobs before being dispatched to Albuquerque to find his way. His first few starts for the Isotopes didn't give much hope he was upto the task of turning his season around with eight walks, and seven earned runs in only 12 innings of work.
However on June 3rd he started his baby steps with a decent start of five innings. Nothing special but he struck out five and only walked three. While it was an okay start it must have given him some confidence because James McDonald has righted his ship with two of the best starts of his minor league career.
On June 8th he went seven innings, gave up one run (via home run) and struck out 10 while only walking two. Today he went seven more innings, gave up zero runs, only two hits, while striking out 13, and only walking one batter. So in two starts this week James McDonald has the following line:
14 IP, One Earned Run, Six hits, 23 K's, 3 walks.
Now that is righting the ship, and production worthy of a number one prospect. Can he work his way back into the Dodger rotation? I'm not sure but I'm feeling a hell of a lot better about his future then I did on April 30th when it looked like he was breaking the cardinal rule of "no crying in baseball".