PIO notes: Maynard a catching natural

Ogden backstop advanced at position despite late start

Pratt Maynard was taken by the Dodgers in the third round of last month's Draft. (NC State Athletics)

By Greg Rachac / Special to MLB.com | July 21, 2011 6:46 AM ET

The ink is barely dry on Pratt Maynard's first professional contract, but the Dodgers organization already likes what it sees from the Ogden catcher.

"So far everything looks real promising," Raptors manager Damon Berryhill said. "He's shown us that he can do everything. He's got a strong arm, his release is decent, his game-calling has been solid, he blocks the ball well ... he's right where he should be."

Maynard's rapid development as a catcher is rare, considering he'd never played the position until his first season at N.C. State three years ago. He was primarily a third baseman and a pitcher before that.

But the six-foot, 215-pound Maynard has adjusted well, and the Dodgers were smitten enough to select him in the third round of the 2011 Draft.

"Catching is a big transition from any other position," said Maynard, who has played just nine games with the Raptors so far. "You're a leader out there, and you have to know exactly what's going on.

"It was a pretty big adjustment after the first couple times being back there. But after a couple years I think I'm doing pretty good."

Berryhill was a catcher in the big leagues for 10 seasons. He understands exactly what Maynard is experiencing.

"Some people are meant to catch, others aren't," Berryhill said. "There have been a lot of people who have converted to catcher, and there have been a lot of people who have tried and failed. But you have to love to do it; otherwise, it's going to be a struggle.

"If you're an athletic kid and you have range and flexibility and a good first step and decent hands, catching is a good spot for you. For a kid that's only been catching for a couple years, [Maynard] is pretty polished, which is a pleasant surprise."

The Dodgers had previous success with another converted catcher -- Russell Martin. A junior college infielder in 2002, Martin caught in Ogden in 2003 and hit .271 in 52 games.

He eventually became the Dodgers' everyday catcher and is now the Yankees' primary backstop in a heated AL East race.

Before Maynard can follow in Martin's footsteps, he'll need to improve in the batter's box, which means getting accustomed to the pitching at the pro level.

"I'm not swinging as well as I hoped, but it's about adjusting," said Maynard, who is hitting .212 in 33 at-bats. "I don't want to become static. I try to do everything well. But baseball is a hard game. As long as you keep getting better, that's the main goal."

Maynard's leadership skills have taken off, and it's shown in the way he's handled the top pitching staff in the Pioneer League, a group that owns a league-best 4.07 ERA.

"I think we've got good chemistry, and that's where it starts," he said. "We've got a good group of guys who work hard. We have a common goal, and that's to win games. And you can tell with the way people work."

In brief

Kickin' it: Missoula made just one error in an eight-game stretch before committing four miscues in a 10-1 loss at Idaho Falls on Tuesday. But with a .977 fielding percentage, the Osprey are still the top defensive team in the Pioneer League.

Second cycle: No one had hit for the cycle in the Pioneer League in the last three seasons, but two have done it already in 2011. Helena's Yadiel Rivera accomplished the feat Tuesday night, matching David Kandilas' cycle for Casper on June 24.

Dealing: Gustavo Gomez and Brandon Martinez have been the ringleaders of Ogden's league-leading pitching staff. The duo is 9-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 12 combined starts.

Greg Rachac is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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