Mayberry off to strong start with 'Riders

Though he struggled to hit for average at High-A Bakersfield, outfielder John Mayberry is currently hitting .303 in his first 19 games at the Double-A level. Lone Star Dugout has an interview with the power-hitting right fielder.

When the Texas Rangers selected 6-foot-6 outfielder John Mayberry with the 19th overall pick in the 2005 draft, they knew he would be a bit of a project.

A first baseman at Stanford University, the Rangers planned on moving the slugger to the outfield, where they felt his athleticism and arm would be a better fit.

Mayberry is pleased with his development in right field, but realizes there is still work to do.

"I feel like it's coming along alright," said Mayberry of his progress in the field. "I feel like I've gotten better since my days in Spokane and even Clinton, Bakersfield, and now here. I'm just looking forward to continuing to work on improving my routes, accuracy, and everything."

Though he was also a first round pick out of Kansas City's Rockhurst High School in 2002, the son of former Major Leaguer John Mayberry Sr. was still known to be fairly raw with the bat. Since joining the Rangers organization, he has worked on his swing and general approach at the plate.

"I'm trying to shorten up my swing and be able to control the barrel more," he said. "I think those are the two most important things. When you can do that, then you're able to use the whole field and drive the ball to all fields with power."

Much like with his defense, Mayberry is pleased with his progress, but he knows there is plenty of room for improvement.

"[My swing] is coming along alright," said Mayberry. "It is definitely a work in progress and nobody said it was going to be easy. I've just got to be patient and continue to work hard."

Playing the entire season with Single-A Clinton one year ago, Mayberry struggled in the first three months, hitting .233 with nine home runs. However, the Stanford product put up outstanding numbers in the second half, as he hit .303 with 11 home runs. Mayberry credits his hard work for the solid second half.

"It's just one of those things that you can't really explain," said Mayberry when asked about last season's second half surge. "All the work you've done day in and day out just begins to pay off. I was able to maintain the swing that I had developed and the second half numbers were there."

Over the offseason, Mayberry was able to play in Hawaii Winter Baseball, a winter league for some of Single-A ball's top prospects. The outfielder proved to be one of the top performers in the prospect-laden league, hitting .318 with three home runs and 23 runs batted in.

"Hawaii was a great experience," explained Mayberry. "The baseball was obviously very competitive and very good from a developmental standpoint. But on top of that, just being in Hawaii was incredible."

Mayberry jumped up one level at the beginning of the 2007 season, playing with the Bakersfield Blaze of the hitter-friendly California League. Though the slugger hit just .230, he was leading the league with 16 home runs at the time of his promotion.

The outfielder says he was happy with his power at Bakersfield, but unhappy with the batting average.

"I've been able to run into some balls and I've hit some homers," he said, "but my average isn't exactly where I want it. I just looking to make more consistent contact and try to get the average up. Hopefully the power numbers will stay there."

Mayberry was promoted to Double-A Frisco in mid-June. He was surprised, but happy to get the call.

"It just came as a call one night," said Mayberry. "It was very pleasant news, to say the least. I'm happy to be up here and I'm just looking to contribute."

After playing on a Clinton team that finished 45-94 last season and a Bakersfield team that was 29-35 at the time of his promotion, Mayberry is happy to be on a winning ballclub in Frisco.

"Everybody is more relaxed and it's definitely looser up here," said Mayberry of Frisco. "They expect to win day in and day out and the attitude rubs off from player-to-player."

Off to an outstanding start to his Double-A career, Mayberry had a .303 average with four home runs and 13 RBI after Thursday night's game.

As for the rest of his season, the power-hitter says he must stay consistent.

"I think my biggest goal is to just maintain a consistent swing and become a more consistent player."

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