Prospect Spotlight: Cameron Maybin

(Originally posted February 27, 2007 here on “The Diamond Cutter” and March 7, 2007 on my old Minor Details colum.)

Name: Cameron Maybin
Organization: Detroit Tigers
Position: Center Field
Drafted: 2005 #10 overall
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200 lbs

When the New York Mets selected right handed pitcher Mike Pelfrey with their ninth pick in the 2005 draft, the Detroit Tigers (picking tenth) could only be some what disappointed as they saw their top pitching target whisked off the board only one spot before them. After all, there was a fresh out of high school center fielder who “Baseball America” dubbed as the “most promising available outfielder” and “third-best hitting prospect overall” that had miraculously dropped to them. 18-year old Cameron Maybin had dropped much lower than he should have due to the fact that speculation was running rampant that the would be difficult to sign and was looking for a massive bonus. This didn’t stop the Tigers.

Despite some rough contract negotiations between the two sides, Maybin and the Tigers finally came to terms. Maybin’s $2.65 million bonus came only after a four month hold out and missing the entire minor league season. But the question was now posed of whether or not this kid, who still as of today isn’t legally old enough to drink alcohol, was worth all the hassle. Was Maybin truly the “Steal of the Draft?”

History: Cameron Maybin played his high school ball at TC Roberson High School in North Carolina and proceeded to etch his name in not only the school’s history books, but the state of North Carolina’s as well. While holding numerous records at his high school, Maybin also holds the state record for hitting after ending his high school career with a batting average over .600. Maybin also collected a couple of awards including “2004 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year” and “2005 1st team High School All-American Outfield.” Needless to say this garnered the youngster a lot of attention from pro scouts and made his decision to enter into the draft and fore go college a whole lot easier.

Once all of the contract drama was put aside, the Tigers now needed to see how the young center fielder handled himself as a pro. In 2006 (after missing 2005 due to the contract hold out), Maybin finally took the field for the first time as a professional baseball player with the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps. He helped lead the Whitecaps to the Midwest League championship and in doing so was given “2006 Class A Playoff Performer Award” by MiLB.com. In 2006 Maybin put up some very solid numbers for his first professional season hitting .304/.387/.457 with 59 runs, 9 homers, 69 RBI, and 27 stolen bases.

Scouting Report: Maybin has a lighting quick bat which can generate a lot of power and because of this I project him to easily be a 30-plus home run hitter down the road for the Tigers. But because of his size, along with his uncanny power is his enlarged strike zone. Maybin’s swing can at times be a little long with those lanky arms and can have some troubles with breaking balls. While this has improved a lot, it can still pose a problem at times and contributes to his high strike out rates. With his speed and stellar base running instincts, it’s not out of the question to think of him as a potential 30-plus stolen base threat as well. When you combine his offensive threats along with his great range and powerful arm in center field, you can easily see why I think he will be one of the brightest stars by the start of the next decade and why this kid is really something special.

2007 should be an exciting season for the Tigers organization and its fans as they get to see another season of the exciting Maybin. After more people have gotten to see the future of the Tigers in action, some comparisons have been made. Some are saying Maybin is similar to Jermaine Dye with more speed or even Torii Hunter with a better bat or even of the Eric Davis mold. In fact his high school coach proclaimed his skills and smarts for the game to be that of Ken Griffey Jr. But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter who you compare this kid to because what is obvious is that he is filled with natural talent.

While some players claim to be the “Steal of the Draft,” in Maybin’s case this is very much the case.

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