I will unabashedly admit that I want Brad Eldred to make the team. He’ll be 27 during this season and probably won’t ever be a superstar. But is there anybody in camp this year who has been more overlooked than he? I say no. After hitting 38 homers in high A and AA in 2004, he cracked 40 homers between AA, AAA and Pittsburgh in 2005. For a club that had finished no better than 10th in the NL in homers between 2002 and...
Here is an Indy Indians’ player who has NOT missed the past season or two due to injury or surgery– a closer look at last year’s MVP.
born: 1/3/79�� in Maracaibo, Venezuela
ht: 6′ 2″��� wt: 180 lb������� B: Right��� T: Right
Maldonado has played 11 years of professional baseball.� He was first signed as an undrafted free agent in 1996,�by the Seattle Mariners.� He spent 1996 – 1999 in the Mariners’ minor league system, and then 2000 – 2002 in the Houston Astros’ minor league system.� He then moved to the Chicago White Sox�organization for 2003 – 2004, playing at AA Birmingham.� In 2004, he was managed in Birmingham by former Indianapolis Indians’ star, Razor Shines.� Maldonado signed with the Pirates for the 2005 season, and was assigned to Altoona, where he played all year.� In 82 games�he hit 7 HR, 34 RBI,�with 35�walks�and 63 strikeouts, for a .252 AVG/ .339 OBP/.378 SLG, and 717 OPS.� In 79 appearances at catcher (the rest as designated hitter), he threw out 23 of 62 (37%) of baserunners attempting to steal.�
Maldonado�returned to Altoona to�begin the�2006 season, but was promoted to Indianapolis after just�5 games,�when Ronny Paulino was recalled from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh.� Maldonado made the most of his opportunity.� He led the International League with appearances at catcher with 100, and in fielding percentage for catchers with .996.� He threw out 23 of 93 (25%)�stolen base attempts.���At the plate, he hit 6 HR, 18 doubles, 47 RBI, with 36 walks and 67 strikeouts, for .283 AVG/ .354 OBP/ .390 SLG, and�743 OPS.� He had 24 multi-hit games and 10 multi- RBI games.� Maldonado was named Player of the Month for June, and team MVP for 2006.� During the season, Maldonado worked with the Indians’ training staff on extra general conditioning and dietary habits, and he lost a significant amount of weight.� He gained strength and flexibility, and also a bit of speed.� He certainly didn’t become a demon on the basepaths, but he did admit that he could tell a difference, and there were a few times when he was able to run out an infield hit that he would not have been able to get at the beginning of the season.�
When the Indians concluded their 2006 season, Maldonado’s contract was purchased by the Pirates.� He made his MLB debut as a pinch hitter on Sept. 8th, and immediately got his first major league hit, a single.� He made his first MLB start two days later.� For the remainder of the season, Maldonado played in 8 games, with 2 hits and one stolen base in 19 AB’s.� He returned to his native Venezuela to play winter ball with Oriente, but played in only 22 games, with .185 AVG with one HR and 9 RBI.�
Maldonado was invited to the big league camp for spring training, and in the early contests, he has seen action in two games, with one hit in four AB’s.� He is generally expected to be heading for Indianapolis to start the 2007 season.
OTHER NOTES –
Brad Eldred has now hit four home runs in four games (one being a “B” game) in the Grapefruit League.�
Bryan Bullington pitched one inning in today’s game, facing only three batters — 2 ground outs and one strikeout.�
I missed the broadcast of this one, but you can find a box score here and Dejan’s Post-Gazette writeup here. Like the 2002 All-Star game, today’s exhibition ended in a tie after the teams ran out of pitchers. The game was knotted at eight after 10 innings. My impressions: If Eldred hits a homer every game, can we trade him to an American League team that needs a DH? He’ll never make it as a first baseman. Tracy would...
Question #1: Does Jim Tracy’s managerial style mesh well with the Pirates’ personnel? Steve from The Parrot: Yes, I believe it does. There seems to be a familiarity between Tracy and the players this spring, and every quote Ive read from the manager has been very positive so far. He does seem to have his favorites, like Jose Hernandez, Salomon Torres and Nate McLouth. Jose Castillo and Chris Duffy may be players that...
Back to looking at possible/likely Indianapolis Indians for 2007
JOHN VAN BENSCHOTEN
born 4/14/1980� in San Diego, California
ht: 6′ 4″��� wt: 215 lb.������ B: right����� T: right
Van Benschoten ( pronounced Van BEN-sko-tin) was the Pirates’ first round draft choice in 2001.� Like Brad Eldred, Van Benschoten was a hitter in his college career, at Kent State University.� In 2001, he was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, as he led the conference with 31 HR’s,�99 hits, and 84 RBI.� Unlike Eldred, Van Benschoten opted to concentrate on pitching.� He started his professional career in 2001 with Williamsport.� While his record was 0 – 2 in 9 starts with a 3.51 ERA, he gave up 23 hits and only 10 walks, with 19 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.� He advanced to Hickory for 2002, where his record was 11 – 4, including winning 8 of his last 10 starts.� He earned a 2.80 ERA in 148.o innings, giving up 119 hits and 62 walks� (1.22 WHIP), with 145 strikeouts.� Van Benschoten started 2003 in Lynchburg, where he won 6 games (no losses) in 9 starts and struck out 49 in 48.2 innings.� He was promoted to Altoona, where he started 17 games to earn a 7 – 6 record, and a 3.69 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 78 strikeouts in 90.1 innings.� He also participated in the 2003 All-Star Futures game.� He struggled more in 2004 with Nashville (AAA), earning a 4 – 11 record, with 4.72 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.� He was promoted to the Pirates and made his MLB debut on August 18, 2004.� In 5 starts and one relief appearance for the Pirates, his record was 1 – 3, with 6.91 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, and 18 strikeouts.� He didn’t totally forget how to hit, though — his first major league hit was a home run.� Van Benschoten missed the entire 2005 season and most of the 2006 season after having surgery on both shoulders in 2005.�
Van Benschoten was able to return to pitching in August 2006.� His first game was with the GCL Pirates, where he pitched 6 innings, giving up one hit, 2 walks, and struck out 4.� His next start was with Altoona, where he pitched 5 innings, giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 3.� He got his first AAA start in Indianapolis on August 19th, when he earned the win by scattering 2 hits and two walks over 6 innings, with 5 strikeouts.� He made a total of 3 starts for the Indians, earning a 1-1 record, with 5.40 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 11.2 innings, with 7 runs and 13 strikeouts.
In spring training, Van Benschoten has been reported to have some good early throwing sessions.� However, his first game appearance yesterday did not go as well as hoped.� He didn’t start, but came into the game in the 8th inning (not exactly “relief”, during spring training), and only lasted 1/3 of an inning.� He gave up two hits and two walks, giving up three runs to take the loss.� Of course, this is only one game, and there are four weeks of spring training still�to come, so let’s not give up on Johnny V just yet.��Having pitched so little last season though, it is not likely that Van Benschoten will start the 2007 with the Pirates.� We can expect to see him here with the Indians, where he can really test his shoulder over many starts.
Not a true live blog today, but I’ll give a few thoughts as I listen to the game off and on: Homer Bailey’s on the hill today for the Reds. Give the kid the fifth starter’s job. He, Arroyo and Harang will be a solid triumvirate next year. Shawn Chacon for the Bucs: Don’t give him the fifth starter’s job. The lineups for the “A” game (the teams played an abbreviated “B” squad game...