Let’s Meet the Angels Catcher of the Future

Updated: April 10, 2017

It had been a couple of years since the Angels have had a stable catcher behind the plate. Chris Iannetta in 2014 was the last Angels catcher to play in more than 100 games. Last year Jett Bandy looked as if he may be setting himself up as the man behind the plate for the Angels but he ended up being traded to the Milwaukee

Brewers for a minor league pitcher and a five year veteran catcher by the name of Martin Maldonado. It looked like he was traded to be the backup Carlos Perez with last year’s catcher Geovany Soto leaving for the White Sox and even though Maldonado has never been a hitting juggernaut (career .216/.298/.341 hitter), it will be his defense that may make the native Puerto Rican a regular behind the plate for Scioscia’s club.

Maldonado, originally drafted by the Angels in 2004 in the 27th round, was mainly used by the Milwaukee Brewers as their backup catcher since being called up in 2012.

Never appearing in more than 76 games during a season, Maldonado has struggled to hit major league pitching as his top three hitting years were .266, .234, .210. He has also lack any pop in his bat with only 28 home runs in 973 career at bats.

So why the optimism…?

Maldonado’s defense is what makes him valuable. In the past two seasons with the Brewers, Maldonado has had a .987 and .985 fielding percentage with 16 errors in 1,136 defensive chances. Also, according to sonsofsamhorn.com, Maldonado ranked ninth in the majors in 2016 in extra strikes per game due to his pitch framing. Even though 1.14 extra strikes a game may not seem like a lot, depending on the situation, it could be a big play that impact the outcome of the game.

Maldonado is also effective throwing out runners with his caught stealing numbers improving each of the past four years.

Year Stolen Bases Caught Stealing Caught Stealing %
2013 19 8 30%
2014 13 6 32%
2015 29 18 38%
2016 30 20 40%

Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
Maldonado has already shown his defensive ability this year throwing out the only attempted base stealer and picking off an Oakland runner at first base. If (and a big if) he is able to hit around .266 like he did in 2012, the Angels may have found themselves a steady catcher for the next few years to come.

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