Thursday, July 14, 2005

Maholm pitches in All-Star Futures Game
• Holly Springs native high on Pirates’ list

Holly Springs’ own Paul Maholm played in the seventh annual XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game Sunday in Detroit.

The game was held in conjunction with Major League Baseball’s 76th All-Star Game, which was played Tuesday night at Detroit’s Comerica Park.

Maholm, a three-year standout and former All-SEC and All-America pitcher at Mississippi State University, owns a 5-2 record with a 3.01 earned run average with the Altoona (Pa.) Curve, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ affiliate in the Class AA Eastern League. He was drafted in the first round by Pittsburgh in 2003 and missed most of the 2004 season after being struck in the face by a line drive.

The Futures Game showcased the top U.S. and international minor league prospects. Hall of Famer George Brett managed the U.S. Team, while 1984 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Guillermo Hernandez managed the World Team.

Maholm pitched in the fifth inning versus the World Team Sunday afternoon. The game was televised on ESPN2.

(Editor’s Note: The following article on Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny, written by Jim Lane, is reprinted from the Altoona (Pa.) Curve’s Internet site, www.altoonacurve.com.)

Curve pitchers Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny are alike in a lot of ways. Both are left-handers. Both are 23 years old. Both are 6-feet-2, and both weigh over 200 pounds.

And, both rate high on the list of Pirate prospects in the “2005 Baseball America Handbook.”

Selected No. 1 by the Pirates in the 2003 draft, Maholm is rated seventh among current Pittsburgh prospects.

Gorzelanny, the Bucs’ No. 2 pick in 2003, is considered the organization’s fifth-best prospect.

Seven of the Pirates’ top 10 prospects are pitchers, including another Curve hurler, Matt Peterson, who is rated ninth.

Maholm expected to be picked by the Pirates after a standout career at Mississippi State University.

“It’s weird going into the draft,” Maholm said recently. “Anything can happen, and I talked to a lot of teams, but the Pirates were the only one I talked to right before the draft, so I kind of knew they were going to pick me.”

It was a different story for Gorzelanny, who pitched at Triton (Ill.) Junior College.

“You get an idea of where someone wants to take you,” Gorzelanny said, “but after the first round, you have no idea of what’s going to happen. The Pirates weren’t even in my mind. I didn’t talk to them much before the draft.”

After signing a contract with Pittsburgh, Maholm said his life changed immediately.

“It’s great to be classified as the first-round pick,” he said, “but there are a lot of responsibilities that go with it. When you’re in college, it’s kind of a normal life with not a lot of change. Then, all of a sudden, you’ve got to learn how to manage money. I try to live the same, but knowing I can do more things with my life.”

Gorzelanny insists he doesn’t have a timetable to reach the major leagues.

“I just want to go out and pitch and be healthy,” Gorzelanny said. “I want to do the best I can and, if all that happens and I do well, then things will turn out for the best.”

Gorzelanny had a scare during spring training when he suffered a strained elbow. However, after a visit to famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews and some rehab work in extended spring training, “Gordo” got the OK to join the Curve.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I started off well, then had a few bad starts, but I think I’m getting it turned around. It’s an adjustment, and you have to deal with it. I’m just thankful I’m actually playing this season.”

Maholm spent most of the 2004 season on the disabled list after suffering a broken nose and broken orbital bone around his left eye when he was struck in the face by a line drive.

“They (Pirates) had me booked for Lynchburg this season,” he said, “but my motivation was to prove to everyone I was ready to make the jump. Now that I’m here, I really don’t have any expectations; I just want to stay healthy and pitch all year.”

Manager Tony Beasley said he expects all of his players to do their best, regardless of where they’re chosen in the draft.

“Definitely, there are expectations from the organization, from outside sources, and from within, too,” Beasley said. “You expect your No. 1 and No. 2 picks to be above average in all phases of the game.

“(Pitching coach) Jeff Andrews and I want to see them compete. We know they have to develop and we see their strengths and weaknesses. We see more than just the draft status.”


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