Live from Lakeland: Cameron Maybin

When the incredibly talented outfielder Cameron Maybin fell to the Tigers at the 10th slot in the draft, they thought they had received a gift. Maybin, who fell due to a number of things, was viewed as one of the top talents in the draft. Little did the Tigers know they'd be in for a long contract battle before eventually coming to terms with the outfielder.

As if the Tigers didn't have enough drama with 2004 first round pick Justin Verlander, they were in store for even more with their '05 first rounder; Cameron Maybin.

The Tigers were negotiating, all the while Maybin's advisor Brian Goldberg was playing games in the press – and when it comes to general manager Dave Dombrowski, that's a cardinal sin. Dombrowski believes negotiating should be done behind closed doors, and behind closed doors only.

So, when reports began leaking that the Tigers were low-balling Maybin, and that the players' association would be getting involved because the advisor was being told different things by different people in the organization, Dombrowski had enough. He came out in late August, announcing that they would no longer work toward a deal.

At that point, the games were put to the side, and less than a month later, the Tigers and Maybin came to an agreement. It couldn't have come any sooner, according to Maybin.

"It was real frustrating, definitely" said Maybin, continuing, "but we got the deal done eventually, and that's obviously the most important thing."

The agreement couldn't have come any sooner, as it allowed Maybin to head directly down to Lakeland, where he could participate in the month-long Instructional League, or as it's more commonly known, ‘fall ball'. Not only did Maybin's presence allow him to get familiar with some of the coaches in the organization, but he also helped him shake off some of the rust he had, which he would have carried into spring training without participating.

As far as Maybin was concerned, he was just excited to be playing baseball again. "It was exciting just to get back on the field," claimed Maybin, adding on, "it had been four months and all, so it was just good to get back out there and start playing again."

Of course, the Instructional League was a bit of an adjustment for Maybin, jumping straight from North Carolina high school baseball (not considered a talent hot bed) to playing with some of the top prospects in the Tigers (and others) organizations. The talent level almost came as a surprise to Maybin, who as an elite athlete likely wasn't challenged often competitively.

"It was good, but it's been different from high school, real different. Everyone here has been real good – we got a lot of good ones." Now that the contract dispute is in the past, the 19-year old Maybin can finally concentrate on the one thing he loves most; baseball. He's been playing exclusively at the minor league level, and while nothing has been set in stone yet (and likely won't be until April 2nd when camp breaks), Maybin is currently pegged to man centerfield at Fifth Third Ballpark for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

There have been some that believe Maybin will be on the fast track to the big leagues in no time, and could see himself there as early as late next season. Maybin, to his credit, isn't looking that far ahead.

"I got a lot of work to do still," said Maybin, finishing up, "Everything in my game can get better, so I've got to work on all of it before I can worry about that. But that's where I'm headed."

And after a month of fall ball and another few weeks of spring training, even without taking a professional at bat, there's virtually no one that will question that statement.

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