Malone Keeps Making A Big Impression

One thing the Dodgers have learned about Chris Malone in his relatively short time in the organization -- don't underestimate him. Malone is one of those who somehow slipped through the cracks and wasn't drafted. Since then he's not only proved that he belongs in pro ball, that he could begin his career at a higher level than norm but that he could succeed in the rotation. Of the latter feat he says, "I think the thing that I'm proudest of is that I've showed I could be a starter."

Malone had a fine freshman year at California's San Joaquin Delta Junior College (8-3, 2.77) but followed with a so-so sophomore campaign at 6-4 after which he was ignored in the 2004 draft. So, he went north to Alaska, pitched in the demanding collegiate summer league there where, among other things, he threw a no-hitter.

Dodger scout Tim Hallgren was in attendance at that contest and followed Malone avidly after that, finally beating out several other teams that by now were also on his trail, getting him to sign. In spring training, Malone demonstrated such a feel for pitching that it was felt that he could skip the rookie leagues and begin his career at low A Columbus. However, he wasn't in the rotation.

Chris, a 6-4, 230 righthander, didn't have to wait too long to get his chance when injuries began to decimate the Catfish staff. He stepped in and quickly became one of its most dependable members, leading the team in innings pitched (141) while tying Blake Johnson for the most victories (9) and finishing one behind Scott Elbert in strikeouts (127). He held opposing batters to a .248 mark and posted a 3.88 ERA.

He throws an 88-92 fast ball, a curve and a particularly effective change that he often uses as an out pitch. Along the way, he absorbed lessons from coach Glenn Dishman. "He taught me a lot of different aspects of the game -- how to approach it, how to use both sides of the plate and how to emphasize each batter's weakness."

He also learned to like the pro game a lot, too. "It's more personal here. The coaches show you respect and help in every way."

In the recently concluded Instructional League, Chris reunited with Dishman, one of the coaches on hand, and learned a new pitch -- a sinker -- which he thinks, "I'll use more when I can throw it for strikes." Mostly he worked on better command of his breaking ball.

Overall it's been a time in which he came from being an unknown quality to being recognized as one of the better prospects. So far, he's never experienced a sore arm and has shown himself to being an innings-eating worker. The best part of it is that it's really just beginning.

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