The Bridgeport Bluefish of the Independent League has been the home to many former major leaguers over the years since their inaugural season in 1998. In recent years, the Bluefish have had the likes of Joey Gathright, Shea Hillenbrand, D.J. Mitchell, Jesus Colome, and Endy Chavez. Pete Rose even managed a game two years ago. Earlier this season, David Carpenter, David Kubiak, Rafael Lopez had their contracts purchased by MLB teams. However, there is one player currently on the Bluefish roster who is hoping he can return to the majors and prove that he can still be effective: Jonathan Albaladejo.
Drafted in the 2001 amateur draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates and making his major league debut in 2007 with the Washington Nationals, Albaladejo had a short stint in the majors, playing with the Nationals for one season and three with the New York Yankees, then going on a hiatus from 2010 through 2012 before joining the Arizona Diamondbacks. During his time in the big leagues, it’s safe to say that he was at his best with the Yankees from 2008-2010. The numbers might say otherwise, but when you pitch in one of the best divisions in baseball, it will be difficult for some to stay consistent. Like most players, he had his good and bad days. Since leaving MLB, Albaladejo has been pitching in the Independent League for the Bluefish and, like any player who goes there to play, he would like another stint to pitch in the majors.
“That’s what we’re here for. Anywhere that I can go, I’ll be really happy about it. Hopefully, it happens sooner rather than later. I’m just going to continue to work hard and make it happen.”
If you don’t follow the Independent League (you should, it’s really fun to watch!), Albaladejo has transitioned from a reliever to a starter, and he has made some mistakes, but he’s still adjusting and trying to get into a rhythm of pitching early in the game for at least four or five innings as opposed to one or two innings to hold a lead.
“It’s been fun. It took me a little bit .. like two or three outings, there was a point where I would get tired. But my last two (starts), I feel okay. It’s been interesting and really fun.”
Albaladejo pitched earlier that night against the Somerset Patriots and went six innings, giving up four runs on nine hits with five strikeouts. He was pleased with his start but noticed a few things he wanted to work on.
“It was good. I think I could’ve done better. I made a couple of mistakes with men on second in the fourth and fifth innings. Other than that, I threw the ball good especially in the first two innings. I was getting ahead with my fastball so I felt pretty good about that.”
So far, Albaladejo seems to be enjoying his time in the Independent League. He still wants to make a return to the majors at some point if he can, but for now, he’s focused on what he’s doing with the Bluefish. It’s a bit of a learning process for him as he pitches for a new league and competes against hitters he’s never faced before. Baseball fans should embrace the players who look forward to returning to the highest level of competition because they’ve had a passion for the game since they were kids. It would be great to see Jonathan Albaladejo pitch again in MLB before he hangs up the cleats for good.