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Former O's minor leaguers -- Darnell McDonald

Baseball America posted the most recent minor league transactions on The Prospects Blog yesterday. Although the Orioles haven't added anyone, according to the list, there was a familiar player who recently signed with the Cincinnati Reds.

Raise your hand if you remember Darnell McDonald.

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The Orioles selected the 5-foot-11, 210-pound outfielder during the first round of the 1997 MLB draft. McDonald showed flashes of potential in his tenure with the organization, but he was never able to prove that he was ready for an extended look in the major leagues.

McDonald received a brief chance during the 2004 season with the Orioles, but he struggled in his time with the team. In 17 games, the outfielder hit .156 (5-for-32) with one RBI, one stolen base and three runs scored.

Following the season, the Orioles cut ties with McDonald and he signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Indians. McDonald batted .270 with one home run and four RBIs in 26 games for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, but the Indians released him on June 4, 2005.

Six days later, McDonald signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and was assigned to the Triple-A Durham Bulls. In 73 games with Durham, McDonald hit .284 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs.

McDonald spent the entire 2006 season with the Bulls, and he put up impressive numbers. The outfielder batted .292 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs in 136 games. He also had 33 doubles, 80 runs scored and 30 stolen bases. With the combination of power and speed, it was arguably his best season at the professional level. Tampa Bay didn't give him an opportunity to prove himself in the majors, however, and McDonald left as a free agent following the season.

Prior to the 2007 season, McDonald signed with the Washington Nationals. He continued to play well for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, hitting .315 with two home runs, 41 RBIs, 17 doubles and 14 stolen bases in 73 games. Washington traded the outfielder to the Minnesota Twins for right-hander Levale Speigner on June 24, 2007.

McDonald batted .277 with five home runs, 32 RBIs, 19 stolen bases and 32 runs scored in 61 games for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. The veteran outfielder received another chance in the major leagues when the Twins recalled him on July 20, 2007, but once again didn't shine during his brief stint. In four games, McDonald had only one hit in 10 at-bats. He struck out three times and walked once.

Last season, McDonald hit .268 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs in 93 games for Rochester. He had 25 doubles and 19 stolen bases.

It's unfortunate that McDonald never lived up to his billing as a first-round draft pick during his time with the Orioles. He was part of a long line of failed first-round selections for the organization, including Alvie Shepherd, Rick Elder, Mike Paradis, Richard Stahl, Keith Reed, Beau Hale and Chris Smith. Luckily for Orioles fans, the past few players picked in the first round look to be pretty special – so far.

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