On Tuesday, Houston Astros’ catcher Martín Maldonado caught his third no-hitter of his Major League Baseball (MLB) career. The victory places him near the top of the league record, just behind Carlos Ruiz and Jason Varitek, each of whom have caught four.
In his 13th season in Major League Baseball, 36-year-old Maldonado is Houston’s starting catcher. Born on August 16, 1986, in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, Maldonado’s journey to success has been defined by hard work, determination, and an unparalleled skill set behind the plate.
Maldonado has notched a number of records and impressive accomplishments in his career. He was the first MLB player to catch multiple combined no-hitters. He won a Gold Glove award in 2017 and a World Series championship in 2022. He also won a silver medal for Puerto Rico at the 2013 World Baseball Classic in a perfect game against Israel.
Maldonado has played for five teams, including the Astros and Brewers. He has a . 206 batting average, 653 hits, 103 home runs, 342 RBIs and 334 runs scored.
Maldonado’s path to the majors
Martín Maldonado’s passion for baseball was evident from a young age. His mother played softball and his father and brother played baseball. He honed his skills playing in local youth leagues in Puerto Rico, showcasing exceptional talent even as a young catcher. As he progressed through his amateur career, his reputation as a defensive standout began to grow, catching the attention of scouts and baseball enthusiasts alike.
Maldonado attended Juan Jose Maunez High School in Naguabo. He was drafted by the Anaheim Angels in 2004.
Maldonado’s rise through the minor leagues was marked by steady improvement and exceptional defensive performances. His ability to control the game from behind the plate, frame pitches effectively, and throw out potential base stealers showcased his elite defensive prowess. His offense also improved over time, making him a more well-rounded player.
In 2011, Martín Maldonado finally got his chance to make his MLB debut with the Milwaukee Brewers. He made an immediate impact with his defensive skills and quickly became a reliable backstop for the team’s pitching staff. Despite his offensive numbers being modest during his early MLB career, his defensive contributions were undeniable, earning him the respect of teammates and opponents alike.
Maldonado’s defensive abilities continued to shine as he played for the Brewers, and he received the recognition he deserved when he won the American League (AL) Gold Glove Award in 2017 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels. The Gold Glove Award is one of the most prestigious honors a defensive player can receive, and it solidified Maldonado’s reputation as one of the best catchers in the league.
His skills as a catcher go beyond traditional statistics. His pitch-framing ability, the art of receiving pitches in a way that makes borderline balls look like strikes to umpires, has been highly praised by pitchers for enhancing their performance on the mound. His expertise in managing the pitching staff and calling the right pitches at crucial moments has also been instrumental in his team’s success.
Martín Maldonado has also earned respect for his leadership qualities and his ability to mentor younger players. Throughout his career, he has been known for his strong work ethic, attention to detail, and team-first attitude. His teammates appreciate his calming presence on the field and his willingness to guide and support them.
“Martín Maldonado has been invaluable,” pitching coach Brent Strom said. “I think there’s a trust factor, a respect factor for Maldy. He does a lot of prep work, has his notes ready to go, works with our analysts extremely well in going back and forth on pitch selection and what each guy can bring to the table.”
Maldonado is also known for encouraging teammates to develop fluency in English, “So you can speak for yourself.”
Maldonado lives with his wife, a Puerto Rican from New York, and his two children.