Maldonado, Cubs win MWL Finals opener
Stepping up to the plate in front of 25,000 screaming fans at the College World Series has a way of preparing a baseball player for the trials of the Minor Leagues.So when Nelson Maldonado, who played on the University of Florida's national championship team in 2017, came up for South
Stepping up to the plate in front of 25,000 screaming fans at the College World Series has a way of preparing a baseball player for the trials of the Minor Leagues.
Maldonado snapped a string of 14 consecutive batters retired by Clinton's
"It definitely helped out," Maldonado said of his tournament experience with Florida. "That experience really helped me transition to this level and helped with my nerves. It helped significantly."
Selected in the 21st round of this year's Draft, Maldonado leads the Midwest League with eight postseason RBIs. The 23-year-old batted .414 in 15 games with Class A Short Season Eugene after a brief stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He joined South Bend on July 28 and hit .311 in 33 contests. He's 7-of-19 (.368) in five playoff games.
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"That run was huge for us," South Bend manager Buddy Bailey said of Maldonado's homer. "He had one of the biggest hits of the year for us in Fort Wayne. We were trying to clinch and he hit a bases-loaded triple. He's been a mainstay for us in the lineup."
Maldonado was the Cubs' designated hitter in Game 1. He was a third baseman/outfielder for the Gators until suffering a torn labrum, then moved to first base, the position he's played in South Bend. When he's 100 percent, the plan is to return to the outfield.
"Playing third and first and outfield, I think that will make me a valuable player," Maldonado said.
Rehabbing Cubs right-hander
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"To me, the ballgame was Levi Jordan's [unassisted double play] in the first," Bailey said. "A diving play turns into a double play, and then the two plays in the ninth to hold the lead were as good as you'll see in the big leagues."
Graveman was in charge after that and the Cubs tied it in the second as
After Graveman exited,
"Glowicki has been solid for us," Bailey said. "We wanted to get him the lead. That home run came at a great time for us because the guy who has been our closer was ready to go. All of our pitchers threw strikes for the most part."
The Cubs padded their lead in the eighth when Velazquez reached on a throwing error by Torres and came home on a bunt by
Game 2 is Thursday in South Bend.
Curt Rallo is a contributor to MiLB.com.