Name: John Mayberry
DOB: December 21, 1983
John Mayberry has the rare distinction of being drafted in the first round two times – three years apart.
Coming out of suburban Kansas City's Rockhurst High School, Mayberry was drafted 28th overall by the Seattle Mariners in 2002. But the club was unable to pry the slugger away from Stanford University, making Mayberry the only first round pick not to sign a professional contract in the 2002 Draft.
Although the Mariners drafted Mayberry as an outfielder, he stayed at first base – his primary high school position – while he was at Stanford. Mayberry had a solid three-year career with the Cardinal, batting over .300, but his power was inconsistent and his swing was slow and long. After hitting four home runs during his freshman campaign in 2003, he belted 16 during his sophomore season. Mayberry followed that up with just eight round-trippers in 238 at-bats during his junior year.
Still enticed by his raw potential, the Rangers took Mayberry with the 19th overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, knowing that he would be somewhat of a project. Many experts were surprised to see Mayberry selected so early, but nobody doubted his astronomical ceiling.
The Rangers were able to sign the son of former big leaguer John Mayberry, Sr., for a slot-level bonus of $1.525 million. The club immediately moved him to the outfield because of his strong arm and above-average athleticism.
Mayberry's professional debut with short-season Spokane in 2005 was predictably rocky, but he flashed some of his power potential. While focusing on his swing and learning right field on the fly, Mayberry batted .253 with 16 doubles and 11 home runs in 71 games. He appeared in 61 games in the outfield, making just one error and picking up three assists.
The outfielder jumped one level to Single-A Clinton in 2006 and struggled out of the gates. Mayberry batted a worrisome .236 with 10 home runs in the season's first three months – 242 at-bats – but a switch turned on for him during the season's second half. In July and August, Mayberry combined to hit .314 with 10 home runs in only 204 at-bats.
Mayberry remained hot as he took his game to Hawaii Winter Baseball the following offseason. Though he did not quite have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title [he hit .318, which would have finished second], Mayberry led the circuit in slugging percentage by a wide margin and finished second with 23 RBI in 25 games.
After witnessing his second-half surge and subsequent domination of Hawaii Winter Baseball, many predicted a breakout campaign for Mayberry in 2007.
That projection never quite came to fruition, though he did belt 30 home runs between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco. Mayberry batted just .235 between the two levels, leading to a less-than-fantastic .785 OPS for the year.
With the Rangers organization becoming so much more talented over the past year, much of the focus has been taken off Mayberry. The prospect has helped draw the attention back towards him with a recent promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma. Mayberry has appeared in just eight games with the RedHawks, but he is 16-for-32 with nine extra-base hits over that span. Maybe more importantly, Mayberry has struck out just twice in those 32 at-bats.
Perhaps 2008 is the breakout season that Rangers officials and fans alike have been awaiting.
Also See: Rangers Q&A with John Mayberry (March 15, 2007)
Mayberry off to strong start with ‘Riders (July 6, 2007)
Sizing up the outfield prospects (October 10, 2007)
Mayberry fine-tuning approach (October 20, 2007)
Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Mike Boulanger (November 5, 2007)
Batting and Power: Mayberry's well-documented raw power rates up there with Chris Davis for best in the organization. The Rangers have worked to shorten his swing ever since taking him in the first round of the 2005 MLB Draft. As evidenced by Mayberry's career-high 30 home runs last season, it has begun to pay off. His swing itself appears to be in pretty good shape at this point in time. Rangers hitting coordinator Mike Boulanger believes Mayberry still must refine his pre-pitch routine – such as separation and landing – in order to take the next step forward. Mayberry also fell into a slump during last season's second-half when he began to get a little too pull-happy.
Base Running and Speed: Mayberry is not a burner on the basepaths and he is never going to be a threat to steal many bases. But for a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder, Mayberry can move. He has long strides, making him a bit faster than he actually appears. The outfielder has been a successful base-stealer thus far in his pro career, as he swiped 16 bases in 18 attempts between Bakersfield and Frisco last summer.
Defense: A first baseman at Stanford University, Mayberry's transition to the outfield has been a difficult one. With a strong arm and decent speed, Mayberry has the ability to play in the outfield, but he has had some trouble adjusting. He often struggles with reads and still takes questionable routes to fly balls, though he is improving. Mayberry has a good arm, but it does not quite rate in the ‘plus' category, especially not for a right fielder. After playing right field for much of his pro career, the 24-year-old has moved over to left field since joining Triple-A Oklahoma. Should Mayberry make it to the Majors, his future probably rests in right field, as his arm is stronger than current Rangers right fielder David Murphy, who would profile better in left.
Projection: Comparisons have been made to the similarly built, similarly tooled White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye. During his 12-year Major League career, Dye has hit .275 while averaging nearly 30 home runs per season. That is probably a good description of Mayberry's ceiling. Mayberry entered the 2008 season as a career .251 hitter in 1,213 minor league at-bats, but he figures to improve on that as he continues to settle in at the plate. Even though Mayberry has all the tools to become an All-Star caliber big leaguer, he is 24-years-old and his game still needs quite a bit of developing. There is no guarantee that he fully develops, but if he does, the sky is the limit.
2008 Outlook: Mayberry began his season with Double-A Frisco and was solid, but not outstanding. The Rangers chose to push Mayberry early in the season by promoting him to Triple-A Oklahoma, where he has gone 16-for-32 since his promotion. The club will need to add him to their 40-man roster in order to protect him from the upcoming offseason's Rule 5 Draft, so it seemed like the ideal time to find out what he was made of. Mayberry will likely spend the rest of the year with the RedHawks, especially after this hot start. If Mayberry continues hitting, he could certainly see Arlington by the end of the 2008 season.