Feature photo courtesy of the Tennessee Smokies Twitter account (@smokiesbaseball)
It’s about time, huh? Nelson Maldonado was way too good for Double-A pitching. He was too good last year, he was too good the minute he was assigned there to begin this year, and he was too good en route to a 255 wRC+ this season.
You read that stat correctly. 255 wRC+
The guy who I pegged as having the best hit tool in the entire system has slashed .465/.500/.837 in a small, but not irrelevant 48 plate appearances. And it’s not just the ridiculous numbers that Maldonado is putting up — it’s the way he looks doing it.
As soon as Nelson strolls to the plate with his high socks and single batting glove, he just looks like a guy that’s going to put a ball in the gap. In addition to his three bombs, he also leads the system with seven doubles.
Now, according to Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register, he’ll get to really prove himself at the dish in Triple-A. With the assumption that Alfonso Rivas sticks in the Majors, Nelly will be mostly playing DH and manning first base when Jared Young needs an off day or gets shifted into left field. Remember, it’s Maldonado’s bat that is going to carry him to the big leagues one day, not his glove.
Now just one quick call from the Majors, we’ll see how Maldonado’s utter dominance over pitching at every level he’s seen translates to the highest level of the minor league ladder.
In an accommodating move, infielder Levi Jordan was sent down to Double-A Tennessee.