OAKLAND -- Much fuss has been made about A's third baseman Josh Donaldson being left off the American League All-Star team, especially since he has been a leading man on a powerhouse club.

But the one person not making a big deal about it is Donaldson. Maybe that's because he had a similar experience with how fickle baseball can be.

Before the 2007 Major League Baseball draft, Donaldson, a catcher and third baseman at Auburn University, was told by scouts he could expect to go late in the first round of the draft. That was significant because the first round was being televised for the first time.

Donaldson invited friends and family over for the big event.

"There were 30 or 40 people here -- family, friends, coaches, his teammates. And we sat around glued to the TV," recalled his mother, Lisa French.

The first 25 picks went by without Donaldson's name being called. The A's had the 26th pick and "wanted to draft Josh," general manager Billy Beane said, but they were thinking second round.

The Detroit Tigers, with the 27th pick, took high school pitcher Rick Porcello, who is now part of their rotation. The New York Yankees, with the 30th and final pick in the first round, selected Andrew Brackman, a 6-foot-10 right-hander from North Carolina State with a 99-mph fastball. He is in Class-A ball with the Chicago White Sox.

Both the Tigers and Yankees had indicated to Donaldson that he was their likely first-round choice. But now the first round was over, and so was the telecast. The party was less festive.

"I looked around and I said, 'Where's Josh?'" French said. "He wasn't anywhere to be found. "

It turns out Donaldson wasn't far away. He hadn't left the house. He was dealing with it. He had gone upstairs to his room for maybe 20 minutes. "I just needed to go up there and regroup," he said.

A little while later, the Chicago Cubs took him with the 48th pick in the draft.

"The draft day experience was pretty cool, it was fun," Donaldson said. "The Tigers and Yankees led me to believe that they'd take me with their first pick but it didn't happen. It was something of a letdown, but you can't complain about being the 48th pick."

That turned out to be a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, picks allocated to teams who have lost free agents.

"I got that call, and it was the Cubs. I was excited again," he said.

That day, Donaldson said, taught him something about baseball and life.

"It's OK to dream large. Dream as big as you want," he said. "If you put in the work, the dream will work itself out. I believe if you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, well, you're still in outer space."

You could say that Donaldson, who has a .313 average, 15 homers and 58 RBIs, has made it to the moon. And the stars aren't out of reach. Especially when you consider that this is his first full big-league season and that he's only 27.

What a change from a year ago, when he was preparing himself for the possibility that the A's would let him go. He was stuck at Triple-A Sacramento after hitting .153 with one homer and seven RBI in 28 games with the A's prior to the All-Star break.

Acquired by Oakland from the Cubs in 2008 as part of a six-player deal that sent Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to Chicago, Donaldson came to spring training last season hoping to make the team as a backup catcher. He'd split time at Auburn between catcher and third base, but was catching in the Cubs' farm system.

However, during winter ball in the Dominican Republic before last season, Donaldson played third base just to show A's manager Bob Melvin that he could.

Then on the first day of camp last season, Melvin told Donaldson "we're going to try to get you a couple of games at third base," the player said. Scott Sizemore was supposed to be the A's third baseman in 2012, until he went down with a season-ending injury early in camp.

"Within 30 seconds of the injury I was doing every bunt defense drill at third base," Donaldson said. "As soon as that injury happened, from that second forward, I was taking ground balls before practice, during practice and after practice."

The A's needed a third baseman, and Donaldson would get the first chance.

"We knew he'd been a third baseman with Auburn," Beane said. "We were thin at the position."

Donaldson spent hours with infield instructor Phil Garner and third base coach Mike Gallego, both former big-league infielders, learning the hot corner.

"He came to me the first day and said he could play the position," Garner said. "Sometimes when you hear that from a guy, you don't see him put in the necessary work. That was never an issue with Josh."

Donaldson still goes through the same routine that he did in spring training in 2012, even though he's solidified himself at the position.

"He's not satisfied just to have made it in the big leagues," Garner said. "He wants to be as good as he can be."

Although Donaldson made the opening day roster in 2012, he didn't hit a lick and got sent down. He was promoted again, didn't hit again, and went back down.

On his way down the second time, Donaldson was asked if he wanted to catch or play third base.

"I told them that if I had a future with Oakland, I wanted to play third base," Donaldson said. "But if I didn't have a future with Oakland, I wanted to catch because I knew what value I could bring to the table as a catcher."

He went back to Sacramento, and he didn't catch at all. He just played third. On Aug. 14, the A's called him back for a third time when Brandon Inge went on the disabled list. This time Donaldson hit and played vacuum-like defense.

He also was one of many key players who pushed the A's to the A.L. West title. Five months later, he reported to spring training as the incumbent third baseman.

"This off-season I got a little bit of confidence from reading something from Billy Beane," Donaldson said. "He was asked why he gave Donaldson a chance and why didn't you just get rid of him. His response was I didn't want to let J.D. go and end up somewhere else and he'd do really well. He said it would have been hard for him to sleep. That kind of gave me the confidence that they had confidence in me. That if I didn't get it done here, there was a good chance I could get it done somewhere else."

Beane remembers, too. "We'd been looking for a third baseman," he said, "and I had this feeling that if we didn't stick with him, we'd see him playing for somebody else."

The A's didn't want that. They recognized what a good athlete he was and reasoned that he could go a long way once he figured things out.

Donaldson was a three-sport athlete in high school. He played running back, wide receiver, cornerback and punter in football, and he was a point guard in basketball.

But in a larger sense, it was always baseball. Perhaps because he was 6-0, 190 pounds in high school, his prospects in other sports weren't great.

"I realized in my junior year, if I was going to be an average white guy, well, you don't see too many 6-foot skill position guys in the NFL," he said. "Basketball was the same. I felt like baseball was going to be my best chance."

So in his junior year, French packed up the house in Pensacola, Fla., and moved to Daphne, Ala., where Donaldson would be able to play at Faith Academy, a private school with a good baseball program.

"Josh had wanted to go to Faith Academy for a while," French said. "But he couldn't make up his mind. But he'd been coming home from school not very happy for a while. So I put the house up for sale, sold it in two weeks and within a month we'd moved to Daphne."

Why the change?

"I'd come to the conclusion that baseball was probably going to be my road to success," Donaldson said. "And I felt like if I transferred to this school which one of my buddies, P.J. Walters (of the Minnesota Twins), did the year before, it would be beneficial. P.J. told me how much he loved it and told me how much better he felt he was getting.''

Donaldson actually made the move to Faith Academy before his mother relocated. Every day for three weeks before his junior year, he drove the 65 miles from Pensacola to his new school.

"He'd work out year around," said Lloyd Skoda, Donaldson's baseball coach at Faith Academy. "Even when he was doing all that driving, it didn't get in the way of his working. He always had a great work ethic."

And it couldn't just be baseball. In his senior year, a week before the football season started, Donaldson dropped by practice to see one of his buddies on the team. Just like that, he decided to play football one last time.

He set a school single-season record with 11 interceptions as a senior and was invited to play in the state All-Star football game as a receiver. He wound up being named the game's MVP.

In the end, however, football was never going to supplant baseball.

"He was a real good football player," Skoda said. "He wouldn't miss a practice. And he'd make me wait until football practice was over so that I could hit him grounders, two or three hundred of them at a time."

Finally leaving football behind, Donaldson signed to play college baseball at Auburn, where he split time between third and catcher because the Tigers had a better lineup when he was behind the plate.

Then the Cubs drafted him as a catcher, and the A's acquired him at the position. But his heart was at third base.

"I guess if I could, I would tell that younger Josh Donaldson to stay at third base," Donaldson said. "But I felt at the time that scouts would be more intrigued with me as a catcher. I felt like I was a really good third baseman. But as a catcher, I ended up catching the scouts' attention.''

He's catching attention again, but now he's doing it from third base.