B-Mets' Maldonado making his pitch

When Ivan Maldonado was demoted from Double-A Binghamton last June, the right-hander learned a tough lesson: though his talent was appreciable, he still had much to learn about the art of pitching effectively.

"Last season, I was just a thrower," said Maldonado, a native of Puerto Rico. "My struggles last year really opened my mind to pitching instead of throwing."

This season has seen Maldonado pitch fairly well. In 29.2 innings pitched, Maldonado has a 2-2 record, 35 strikeouts, and three saves with a 3.03 ERA.

"He's been tremendous for us," said Binghamton manager Juan Samuel. "He's done a great job coming late in the game and getting some key hitters out in some tough situations."

Maldonado owns a fastball that is between 91-93 MPH and his "out pitch" is his slider, which is clocked between 83-87 MPH. This combination has worked well, but the six-foot-three hurler still is not satisfied.

"I'm working on a third pitch, which is a split-finger fastball," said Maldonado. "I really think that this third pitch is going to be a big jump for me to move up."

Before the season started, Maldonado had the honor of playing in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico.

Although he saw just one inning of work over two experiences, allowing two runs on one hit, the experience of playing along major leagues was beneficial.

Now in Binghamton, Maldonado hopes to play alongside those major leaguers again at some point.

"I wish I have the chance this year to play in Triple-A or the big leagues," said Maldonado. "I think I've pitched well and everything is coming around and looking good for me. Hopefully I keep putting up good numbers."

If he does keep on posting up strong numbers, Samuel believes it shouldn't be too long before Maldonado moves up the ladder.

"The main thing for him coming out of the bullpen is that he's throwing strikes," Samuel said. "He's not walking guys which is what you want from somebody coming out of the bullpen."

Maldonado's bulky 221-pound frame also gives him an advantage against most hitters.

"He's strong, he's a big kid, he creates leverage off the mound," said Binghamton pitching coach Mark Brewer. "That's what we look for in a guy to come in and be a setup man or a closer one day in his career."

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