HIGH POINT, N.C. – Alberto Baldonado, a relief pitcher for the 2019 High Point Rockers, has become the latest High Point Rocker to reach the Major Leagues when he was called up to the Washington Nationals on September 1. He is the third Rocker, and third reliever, to reach the Major Leagues in the last two weeks, joining David Robertson of Tampa Bay and Jake Petricka of the Los Angeles Angels.
Baldonado appeared in 13 games for the Rockers in 2019, posting a record of 0-1 with a stellar 1.98 ERA, striking out 19 batters in 13.2 innings. He originally signed with the Rockers on June 16 of that year after being released from the Chicago Cubs. On July 30, he headed to Mexico to play for Sultanes de Monterrey. While in Monterrey, he posted an 0-1 record, while lowering his ERA to 1.59 in eight appearances.
“Awesome kid,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe about Baldonado. “He just dominated from the first pitch. From the day he got here, he worked his butt off, so you knew he was going to get another shot somewhere. Hats off to him, we’re super excited.”
Baldonado, 28, from Colon, Panama, was originally signed by the New York Mets in 2010, reaching their Class AAA affiliate in Las Vegas in 2017 before spending time in the Chicago Cubs organization in 2018 and 2019.
Signed by the Washington Nationals ahead of the 2021 season, Baldonado dominated at AA Harrisburg, posting a 1.13 ERA to go with his 3-0 record. Promoted to AAA Rochester, he continued to impress, sporting a 3-1 mark and a 3.31 ERA. Across the two minor league levels, Baldonado struck out 47 batters in 40.2 innings.
In his 12-year professional career, Baldonado has amassed a 25-29 record with a 3.34 ERA almost exclusively out of the bullpen (26 starts in 380 career games). He has also recorded 48 career saves, including a career high of 15 in 2020 split between the Mexican Pacific Winter League and the Caribbean Series.
Baldonado will try to provide stability to a Washington bullpen that has been a revolving door of relievers this season, most notably top free agent acquisitions Will Harris (60-Day DL) and Brad Hand (21 saves before being traded to Toronto on July 29). Washington currently ranks 11th in the National League in ERA at 4.67.
Baldonado joins fellow relievers David Robertson (Tampa Bay Rays) and Jake Petricka (Los Angeles Angels) as the other Rockers alumni to reach the Major Leagues in 2021. Both Petricka and Robertson appeared in a Rockers uniform during the current 2021 season.