Nick Maronde opened the 2012 season at advanced Single-A Inland Empire and appeared in just seven Double-A games before getting the call to bolster the Los Angeles Angels bullpen this week. The 23-year-old left-hander has responded by striking out all four batters he has faced, including a clutch performance that secured a much-needed Angels victory over the Oakland A’s on Wednesday.
It was Maronde’s 23rd birthday on Wednesday, and he gave himself and the Angels a present. The bullpen lacked tough lefty Scott Downs, who had pitched in back-to-back contests, so manager Mike Scioscia called upon the rookie with runners on the corners and one out with the Angels holding a two-run lead.
Like Shelby Miller, the highly regarded Cardinals right-hander who was recently summoned to the heat of the pennant race from Triple-A Memphis, Maronde projects as a starter for the long term, but for September he gives the Angels a live arm for critical late-inning situations.
A third round pick out of the University of Florida in 2011, Maronde has a plus fast ball and slider, and he also features a change-up that is still under development, which is why he profiles better as a reliever this month in his first taste of the majors than a starter.
Because of his limited experience above Single-A, Maronde is one of the more surprising call-ups by a team in the midst of a pennant race. With staff ace Jered Weaver battling biceps tendinitis, Maronde does represent a spot start option for manager Mike Scioscia.
Overall in three minor league stops this season – including two in Single-A and 32.1 innings at Double-A Arkansas – Maronde is 6-4 with a 2.26 ERA in 20 games (18 starts) and 99.2 innings. He posted a 1.01 WHIP and struck out 90 while walking just 19.