Seeing events unfold before they take place is something Pete Maldonado takes pride in being able to do. No, Pete isn’t a psychic, nor does he work at a carnival, but as a 2021 uncommitted catcher out of Heritage High School in Wake Forest, NC, he finds plenty of benefit in being able to see the game and help his team make the proper moves from behind the plate.
These types of skills are attributed to being willing to pay attention to details and doing to the work it takes to advantage that which is recognized. Pete excels at both.
Joining the Dirtbags as a freshman he has found plenty of those opportunities to learn while playing for some longtime organizational coaches like Trey Daly and Brent Haynes.
Maldonado says those experiences provided him a lot but particularly, as he puts it, “Learned a lot about game management.”
Whether calling pitches based on a batter’s previous at-bats, or recognizing who’s coming up and how a batter may be able to be pitched around because the pitcher’s stuff matches up better vs. the guy on-deck, it all becomes part of Pete’s approach to helping his team defensively. He says as a vocal player on the field he is able to move outfielders or adjust the positioning of the defense by paying attention as the game is played.
Focusing on small details like receiving also carries weight according to the left-handed hitting catcher. It stands to reason that the more strikes thrown by the pitcher means less runners on base, and if he can help in that by framing pitches then Maldonado is all in.
The junior receiver says he sees the game as a huge chess match and as such he’s always thinking ahead to be a few moves in front of the opposition. Pete feels this is also an area that can be overlooked by some players and hope it’s a factor that sets him apart.
In that respect he commented, “I’m always looking for ways to be a better on field coach.”
As the general manager of the Dirtbags and someone who has coached Maldonado directly, Trey Daly remarked, “First thing you recognize about Pete Maldonado is his love for the game. There aren’t many days that Pete is not working on his craft. Whatever you do in life if you have a passion for it like Pete you are going to come out on top!”
The Dirtbag experience has provided Peter a growth in skills that extends to his interscholastic career, as he made the varsity squad as a sophomore last spring. He admits he may have started hot at the plate but soon found himself in an extended slump. But as one who knows him may expect, he learned some lessons in all that.
He says, “The struggle helped me realize baseball is a grind all the time instead of just when you want it to be.”
So, as Maldonado finds ways to help his team with such valuable intangibles this all has assuredly been the product of the work portion of the equation. He is always taking extra cuts, and of course working on finer points of the dirty work of being a catcher.
Pete noted, “It’s easy to recognize deficiencies.”
Thus he’s constantly dealing with those parts of his game that don’t meet his standards and not only striving to improve those skills, but also finding other ways to mitigate those as factors. That is practical improvement in its highest form.
To Maldonado, that even means taking notes – whether about his own at-bats or about an opposing team’s hitters the kid is always looking for an edge to advantage himself in the game.
Work has also produced results that show in the box score. He’s reduced his pop time to a 1.96-2.04 range and at the plate he has learned to take his same skills in calling a game to be able to hunt pitches and produce results with his lefty swing.
Trey agreed on the well rounded productivity by adding, “Behing the plate, the LHH has continued to make strides each and every year from his catching and throwing to his hitting.”
Ultimately all this is to provide an opportunity to connect with a college baseball program. No surprise here but Maldonado once again has a plan. Focusing his attention on those schools who have yet to garner commitments from players in his class and position he has a collection of programs he has sought out to foster recruitment.
But the process is wide open right now for Maldonado and he’s keeping his eyes wide open, too in order to be ready for the right fit when it becomes available. For Pete, that program will have a combination of providing a competitive atmosphere along with an emphasis on player development – if it isn’t obvious yet, this guy wants to keep improving.
He’s also looking for a learning environment with high academic standards where skills for a career can be obtained. Particularly, he sees himself pursuing a field in the sciences as he finds a keen interest in genetics – another area where small nuances can impact results.
But for now he continues to strive to be his best with the Dirtbags and appreciates how the brand demands attention. He is equally impressed with the organization’s coaches who are so connected with college programs far and wide. As he states, “They are able to find ways to get you where you belong.”
For Maldonado, where he belongs is on the diamond. Seeing the game and doing the work to help his team in whatever way he can.
Daly perhaps said it best as he stated, “I’m excited to see where he lands at the next level because one thing is for sure, the guy will make any team better.”
What a great way to be seen by others. As someone who makes the team better. And if you see Pete Maldonado play it’s obvious he fits that description.