Brewers' Maldonado Throws Out Preconceptions





MILWAUKEE—The Brewers always knew Martin Maldonado could catch and throw. In fact, he could do those things better than any catcher in the system.

But would Maldonado ever hit enough to profile even as a backup in the big leagues? Through his first seven years in the minors, including three in the Angels system before the Brewers signed him as a minor league free agent in 2007, Maldonado batted a mere .225 with 16 homers in 1,239 at-bats.

This year, much to the delight of Maldonado and the Brewers, that began to change. The 25-year-old batted .264/.349/.370 in 64 games for Double-A Huntsville, but he really took off after his promotion to Triple-A Nashville in late July. In 39 games with the Sounds, he batted .321/.410/.537 with eight homers and 25 RBIs.

"I made a few adjustments in winter ball (with Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican League) and I came back here a lot more confident in myself," Maldonado said. "I was working with my hitting coaches a lot, especially (Nashville's) Sandy (Guerrero). They helped me a lot.

"It was just small adjustments here and there. I stayed with my approach, became more patient."

Regular playing time might have had something to do with Maldonado's offensive production as well. Prior to this season, he had never settled in with one team for long or received consistent playing time.

"Sometimes, it takes awhile for catchers to develop," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I don't think he ever got a lot of at-bats with any one team. We could see that he can catch and throw."

True to form, Maldonado gunned down 43 percent of minor league basestealers this season.

 

The Brewers rewarded Maldonado by making him one of just a few September callups. Roenicke made it clear he wouldn't hesitate to put Maldonado behind the plate in any situation if the opportunity arose.

"I always thought if I played every day, I'd get more pitches to see and do better," Maldonado said. "Everybody always has something to improve on. I keep working on it.

"I was seeing the ball better. When you see it better, you put better swings on the ball."

MICROBREWS

• The Brewers named third baseman Taylor Green the organization's minor league player of the year. He batted .336/.413/.583 with 22 homers for Nashville prior to his Aug. 27 callup.

• Minor league ERA champion Mike Fiers won organization pitcher of the year honors for going 13-3, 1.86 with 132 strikeouts in 126 innings for Huntsville and Nashville.