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May 2, 2014
Scouting Martin Maldonado as a Pitcher
Wednesday’s pitching appearance by Martin Maldonado was unusual in at least one respect: the game wasn’t a total blowout. When Maldonado entered, the Brewers were down just six runs. Granted, six runs in the ninth inning is hard to overcome—Baseball Reference’s game log says the Cards were virtually guaranteed to win at 100 percent probability (give or take). Six runs, though, is just about the minimum deficit at which a manager will start to consider using a position player in regulation. In 55 position player appearances since 2005 that weren’t in extra frames (not counting Maldonado), there have only been two occasions where one entered down six runs. The mean and median were both 10 runs.
The last time a fielder pitched in regulation down less than six runs was April 9, 2004. Journeyman first baseman/outfielder Dave McCarty came in for the Red Sox down just three runs in the ninth! The Sox had just come off a 13-inning game and placed long reliever Ramiro Mendoza on the DL that day, so skipper Terry Francona was forced to use McCarty.
Maldonado turned out to be a reasonable choice for Ron Roenicke.
Maldonado did have the presence of mind to ask for a new baseball after getting one back that had hit the dirt while in play. He also shook off his catcher a couple of times. Gotta love a man with a plan.
The spinner was 78 mph, which means it overlapped with his fastball range. There’s no reason that he couldn’t make that work—it’s just unusual. I’d want to see more than one to judge its consistency, but it shows a lot of promise. I already like it better than, say, Rick Porcello’s slider offering.
Overall grade: 60 present/70 future. Plus control and a potential weapon with his slider make him a guy worth paying attention to if he comes in again.