Manager praises new left-hander Maloney
Dusty Baker says the 24-year-old has control and is not afraid to pitch inside to right-handers.
By Hal McCoy
Monday, February 25, 2008
SARASOTA, FLA. — He wears uniform No. 80, a nice number for an NFL wide receiver, but not a number a young pitching prospect wants to wear in spring training.
That's OK, though, for left-hander Matt Maloney. The Reds acquired Maloney July 30 from Philadelphia for pitcher Kyle Lohse. Maloney, 24, has a job. Lohse, a free agent, is unemployed.
Of 10 legitimate candidates for the starting rotation, Maloney and Jeremy Affeldt are the only left-handers.
The '80' on his back doesn't concern him. When he faces hitters in batting practice, they can't see the number and judging from some weak swings, particularly by left-handers, that number could soon be lowered.
He has caught the sun-glassed eyes of manager Dusty Baker, especially the sweeping breaking pitch that buckles the knees of left-handers.
"He not only has good breaking stuff, he has deception and late movement on his fastball," Baker said. "He has control and he is not afraid to throw the ball inside on right-handers, which is one of the toughest things to teach a left-handed pitcher. A lot of them don't like to try that because the ball tends to creep back over the heart of the plate.
"Most of the left-handers I didn't like facing were guys who could throw their fastballs inside," Baker added.
Baker didn't put Maloney into the same category as Jerry Koosman and Frank Tanana, "Left-handers who were nasty on everybody," but said Maloney appears to be trying to do what they did.
Maloney, a native of Sandusky and a Columbus resident, smiled broadly when told that both Baker and pitching coach Dick Pole like what they see of him.
"Those are good guys (Baker and Pole) to have on your side," he said. "If I can be a little more consistent in throwing my breaking ball for strikes, it is going to be a good pitch against left-handers.
Scott Hatteberg, an accomplished veteran hitter, struggled a bit when he faced Maloney in batting practice and said, "He looked good to me. Good command. He is not overpowering. And he has a good changeup that you don't see many left-handers throw to left-handed batters."
Maloney was Philadelphia's No. 3 draft pick in 2005 and was Class A South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year and the Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the year in 2006 (16-9, 2.03 earned-run average) at Lakeland, Fla.
Last year, he was 9-7 with a 3.94 ERA at Class AA Reading in the Eastern League and was an All-Star when the Reds acquired him. He was 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts at Class AA Chattanooga, then finished the year at Class AAA Louisville and was 2-1 in three starts with a 3.18 ERA.