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This week I turn Mehring
Monday into Maldonado Monday for
an appreciation of former Wisconsin Timber Rattler Carlos
Maldonado. The former
Rattlers catcher was just a big part of a Venezuelan League Championship for
Magallanes (You can see his homer and RBI double in these highlights
of the Game Seven win over at ESPNdeportes).
Carlos L. Maldonado - we throw the "L" in there to differentiate him on
the Appleton Professional Baseball Honor Roll from Carlos C. Maldonado, an
Appleton Foxes player from 1987 who also made it to the Major Leagues - was
signed by the Seattle Mariners out of Venezuela as an international free agent
in 1995 when he was sixteen years old.
The catcher would play for the Mariners affiliate in the Arizona League during
the 1996 season. He would be
eighteen when he first suited up with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 1997.
He played 97 games and hit .190 with no homers and 25 RBI in that 1997
The following year, Maldonado spent most of his time (42 games) with Everett in
the Northwest League. But, he would
also appear in seven games with the Rattlers and in three games with Tacoma,
Seattle's Pacific Coast League team.
Maldonado spent all of the 1999 season with the Rattlers and appeared in 92
games. His batting average improved
to .308, but he was homerless in his games in the Midwest League.
In 2000, he began Spring Training with the Mariners, but he did not finish with
them. On March 21, Seattle traded
him to the Houston Astros for Carlos Hernandez.
The move helped Maldonado climb the organizational ladder.
He made the jump to AA and played with Round Rock, the Texas League
affiliate of the Astros. Maldonado
played for the Express in 2000 and 2001. He
began the 2002 season in New Orleans, Houston's Pacific Coast League team, and
played twelve games for the Zephyrs. Then,
he went back down to Round Rock and appeared in 47 games with the Express.
Maldonado was granted free agency in October of 2002.
The Chicago White Sox signed him in January of 2003 and assigned him to
Birmingham. He spent two productive
seasons with the Barons in 2003 and 2004 as he appeared in 230 games, hit 18
home runs, and drove in 131 runs. But,
his run with the White Sox organization ended when he was granted free agency in
October of 2004.
This skips a step because Maldonado was also allowed free agency after the 2003
season, but he re-signed with Chicago again in November of that year.
The second time the White Sox set Maldonado free, he did not return to them.
Less than a month later, Maldonado was in the Pirates organization.
This would be his step to the major leagues.
The Pirates sent Maldonado to Altoona, their Eastern League affiliate, to start
the season. He would play 82 games
for the Curve in 2005 and rejoined them to start 2006.
A few games into that year, Pittsburgh promoted Maldonado to
Indianapolis, their International League affiliate.
In his first extended look at AAA, Maldonado hit .283 over 103 games with six
homers and 47 RBI. He played his
final game with Indy on September 4.
Four days later Maldonado made his major league debut.
On September 8, 2006, Maldonado pinch-hit for Ronny Paulino with two outs and
nobody on base in the ninth inning of a game the Pirates were losing 9-1 at
Cincinnati. Maldonado singled to
center on the first pitch he saw as a major league and picked up the hit off
On September 10, Maldonado made his first start as a major league catcher and
went 0-for-3 in a 4-2 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati.
He played a total of eight games with the Pirates in 2006 and went 2-for-19.
Maldonado spent a brief amount of time (three games) with Altoona and more time
(46 games) with Indianapolis in 2007. Then,
he was called back to the major leagues in August.
Not only did he play in more games (13) this time around with the Pirates, he
also hit his first major league home run.
It happened in a game at Houston - against one of the teams that
had let him get away - on September 16. Maldonado
liked this so much he would homer again in his next start, a game on September
20 at San Diego.
But, at the end of the season, the Pirates granted Maldonado free agency again.
He would re-sign with Pittsburgh less than a month later.
It would take Maldonado almost three years and two other organizations to get
back to The Show.
He played just 46 games with Indianapolis in 2008.
Then, after another round of free agency, he signed with the Boston Red
Sox for the 2009 season. He was sent
to Pawtucket, Boston's International League affiliate, but only played in 24
games with them before being released on August 3.
This is where the story usually ends for players.
Not for Carlos Maldonado. He
went to Venezuela and played winter ball for Leones del Caracas.
Then, he played for Venezuela in the Caribbean Series.
He played well enough to be noticed and got another chance with another
He signed with the Washington Nationals late (March 20) in Spring Training of
2010. He was sent to Syracuse,
another International League affiliate, to start the season.
Due to injuries to Nationals catchers, Maldonado got called up to the big
leagues again in late May.
He got into a game against San Francisco on May 27 of 2010.
He would appear in four games with the Nationals - including a game at
Houston on May 31 in which he
hit a three-run home run as part of a nine run seventh inning, before
he got hurt and needed to go on the disabled list.
From there it was all the way down to the Gulf Coast League for a brief
rehabilitation assignment before going back to Syracuse to conclude the season.
He spent all of 2011 with the Syracuse and opened the 2012 season with the
Chiefs. Then, due to a rash of
injuries to Washington catchers, he got another call to the Nationals and played
four games with them from May 19 through May 29.
This passage from an
article in The Washington Post about
his 2012 callup may explain Maldonado has been around for so long:
he has only 25 games of major league experience, including four with the
Nationals in 2010, the other catchers look up to him, by far the oldest member
of the group. During spring training, Maldonado sits at the center of a circle
as young players listen to him.
After the injury, there was a
brief stop in Potomac, Washington's Carolina League affiliate, before going
back to Syracuse to end the season.
The Nationals have granted Maldonado free agency after each of the last three
seasons, but Maldonado has quickly re-signed with Washington each time.
Maldonado has been asked to spring training by Washington as a Non-Roster Invite
In all, Maldonado
has played seventeen seasons for fifteen different teams in eleven different
leagues over six organizations.
Plus, Maldonado has played in Venezuela each winter since 2006 with Caribes
(2006-2007), Caracas (2007-2010), Zulia (2011), and Magallanes (2012).
Carlos Maldonado just keeps playing a game that he loves and Appleton, Wisconsin
was one of his first steps in the professional game.
Keep going, Carlos.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.