The Orioles began their offseason by aiming to improve their depth at first base in the farm system.
Always attracted to power at any level, the Orioles announced today that they signed Joe Maloney to a minor league contract.
Maloney, 27, was a 10th-round pick of the Rangers in 2011 out of Division II Limestone College in South Carolina. He spent the 2017 season in independent ball and was named Most Valuable Player in the Can-Am League after batting .282/.359/.638 with 24 doubles, two triples, 35 home runs and 101 RBIs in 99 games with the Rockland Boulders. He also went 4-for-9 with two doubles in two games with the Somerset Patriots in the Atlantic League.
Maloney can play first base, left field and right field and he’s also caught in 93 games.
“Joe Maloney was MVP of the Can-Am League, is versatile defensively and can hit. Especially dangerous versus left-handed pitchers,” executive vice president Dan Duquette wrote in a text message.
Maloney has batted .234/.302/.386 in four minor league seasons, with 71 doubles, five triples, 27 home runs and 152 RBIs in 298 games. He spent 2011-2013 in the Rangers system and 2016 in the Twins organization.
Playing for Rockland in 2014-2015, Maloney hit a combined 49 doubles and 31 home runs with 149 RBIs. Baseball America chose him as the independent league Player of the Year in 2015 and he earned a minor league deal with the Twins.
Splitting time between Single-A Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga, Maloney hit .256/.322/.383 with 28 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 51 RBIs in 114 games. He struck out 142 times in 454 plate appearances.
His 35 home runs this season broke the Can-Am League record of 32 set by Quebec’s Eddie Lantigua in 2005.
“What Joe accomplished this season was breathtaking from beginning to end,” Boulders manager Jamie Keefe said in a story posted on the team’s website. “He did anything we could have asked for and to put up the kind of numbers he did in a 99-game season was something special to be a part of.”
Said Maloney: “It’s an exciting opportunity I’ve got coming at me and I’m going to make the most of it. I want to thank everyone in the Boulders organization and especially all the fans for the love and support they’ve shown me over the last few years. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me and I’m excited for this new chapter of my life.”
The Orioles signed sluggers Adam Walker and David Washington last winter. They released Walker and Washington was outrighted after going 0-for-6 with five strikeouts upon being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.
Maloney could get a shot at playing first base at Norfolk or Double-A Bowie, depending on other signings and his spring production.