The lower levels of the minor leagues are largely populated with guys who could share the same story: They were seen as prospects at one point but didn't immediately catch on or had a weakness in their game exposed and, as such, they ended up spending longer than they'd expected working their way up the ladder and having their prospect status revoked. Many of those guys hold on for a long time, though, and stories like Martin Maldonado's are a good reason for them not to give up.
On this day in 2007 the Brewers signed Maldonado as a minor league free agent. He was only 20 but had already spent three years in the Angels organization, where he'd never advanced beyond rookie ball or played more than 36 games in a season. His bat wasn't much to write home about (he's still just a .238/.316/.332 career hitter in the minors) but he was solid defensively so the Brewers kept him around because you can never have too many catchers.
Maldonado has hung around for quite a while now as a relative afterthought, but he had a breakout year offensively in 2011. In his eighth pro season Maldonado hit .287/.373/.436 in 103 games between AA and AAA and earned his first callup to the majors. Five seasons after the Angels cast him aside, Maldonado is on a big league 40 man roster and probably has a good chance to catch some games for the Brewers this season. He's still only 25, so it's possible he has a long career ahead of him.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:
- 1995 Brewer Rob Dibble, who turns 48.
- Seattle Pilot and 1970 Brewer Sandy Valdespino, who turns 73.