Matt Maloney(notes) was picked well before the Atlanta Braves selected Tommy Hanson(notes) in the 2005 MLB draft, but from there Hanson became arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball while Maloney was seen as nothing more than a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Thursday afternoon they’ll see how far they’ve come.
The young pitchers made their major league debuts a day apart earlier this month, and they’ll make their third starts against each other at Great American Ball Park as the Cincinnati Reds seek a three-game sweep of the Braves.
Maloney (0-1, 4.50 ERA) was picked in the third round of the 2005 draft by Philadelphia and dealt in July 2007 to the Reds (33-31), where he’s become a solid, if not spectacular prospect.
Spectacular was one of many adjectives used to describe Hanson, a 22nd-round selection in 2005 whom the Braves (30-34) refused to swap for San Diego’s Jake Peavy(notes) last offseason. Hanson (1-0, 6.17) made Atlanta look smart, posting a 1.49 ERA and striking out 90 in 66 1-3 innings with Triple-A Gwinnett.
He has been far from untouchable in two major league starts, but on Friday he picked up his first win. Hanson gave up nine hits and five walks over 5 2-3 innings, but limited Baltimore to just two runs in a 7-2 victory.
Hanson’s first win, though, was also the last time Atlanta hasn’t lost. The Braves have been outscored 30-11 in dropping their past four games, with the only close contest in that stretch Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Reds.
“You’ve got to have some run support,” manager Bobby Cox told the Braves’ official Web site. “We have to get better with pitch selection and RBI situations. That’s all there is to it.”
Maloney has pitched six innings and allowed six hits in each of his first two starts with the Reds, and didn’t factor in the decision after allowing two runs in his debut against the Chicago Cubs on June 6. He was on the hook Friday at Kansas City, though, after giving up four runs in Cincinnati’s 4-1 loss.
The left-hander’s lone problem so far has been allowing home runs. Maloney has given up two in each start, including a game-changing two-run blast in the sixth on Friday.
“That’s the one that hurt,” manager Dusty Baker told the Reds’ official Web site. “It made it 4-1 instead of 2-1.”
Maloney will get his first look at Chipper Jones(notes), who might only have needed to face the Reds to break out of his slump. Jones was 0 for 20 in Atlanta’s previous five games before coming to Cincinnati, where he’s gone 4 for 7. He’s hitting .450 (9 for 20) with a homer and 4 RBIs against the Reds this season.
Bruce, who’s hitting just .217 this season, is batting .571 with five homers and nine RBIs lifetime versus Atlanta.