There are so many players that show a glimpse of promise and all of sudden they're gone. Jonathan Albaladejo's first season in the majors (2007) saw him take the mound 14 times for the Washington Nationals. He posted a 1.88 ERA and struck out 12 in 14 innings surrendering only two base on balls. By all accords, everything seemed on the up and up.
Five years later and after 66 appearances, Albaladejo would never appear in a Major League game again. He's not the first player to have a career like this and he won't be the last. But after 17 years at the professional level and over 660 games, these players should be praised not forgotten. There's only so many Mike Trout's and Chris Sale's around. It's the grinders, those guys who may not be the most talented and may not grace the cover of SI, but make the game go around. You don't necessarily need a home run to wins games, you need singles and sac bunts. Not glamourous, but I think you get what I'm trying to say.
Drafted in 19th round pick of the 2001 amateur draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Miami-Dade College, Albaladejo has literally played all of the world. For part of the past eight past seasons he's spent time in the Venezuelan Winter League, Puerto Rican Winter League, Japan Central League, and Mexican League. And during that time he's gone 15-22 with a 2.94 ERA. And if you look at the complete body of work in MiLB, he's appeared in over 770 innings, sports a cumulative ERA of 3.28, a WHIP of 1.16 and a SO/W ration of 4 to 1.
Photo courtesy Atlantic League
With all that being said, the 6'7" right-hander has been relatively forgotten by the baseball world until he earned Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year honors while suiting up for the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2016.
“Jonathan was outstanding on the mound for us last season so we’re thrilled to have him back,” says Bluefish General Manager Paul Herrmann. “It will also be great to have a young player such as Ozney (Ozney Guillen, son of former MLB shortstop, Ozzie Guillen) join us this season. He’s incredibly passionate about the game and has a strong desire to succeed. Jonathan’s dominance and Ozney’s versatility will be dynamic to our club this season in our quest for an Atlantic League Championship.”
Last year, Albaladejo made 15 starts, totaled 172 innings and racked up 15 wins against six losses. His 164 strikeouts set a new Atlantic League record and his 15 wins eclipsed the previous Bluefish franchise best.
At 34, it's by no means the end of the road for him, he's obviously got a lot left in the tank. And if 2017 shapes up anything like last year's award winning season, he might get a shot back in the bigs.
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here