The Tigers top pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Maybin is one of those rare high school talents that people talk about for years. Coming out of TC Roberson High School, Maybin holds more school records than you can actually list here. He also holds the North Carolina state record for career batting average, ending his career hitting over .600. Despite a commitment to play baseball at South Carolina, there was almost no doubt he would turn pro. In the days leading up to the draft, Maybin's stock was falling due to unfounded concerns over his signability. Rumors were circulating that Maybin's asking price was far higher than the actual figures demonstrated.
Maybin signed too late to make his debut in 2005, but put on an impressive display – including some monster homeruns – during the Instructional Leagues. Maybin debuted in full-season ball with West Michigan and didn't disappoint. He debuted on fire, taking home the April TigsTown West Michigan Player of the Month award. After coming back from a DL stint with a sprained index finger tendon, Maybin continued to hit all season, taking home another monthly award in July. For the season, Maybin ranked in the Midwest League top ten in steals (27), average (.304), OBP (.387), slugging (.457), and OPS (.844). All this led to his being named the TigsTown Organizational Player of the Year, an award befitting such an elite talent.
The term "5-tool talent" is often tossed around far too much, but when used in reference to Cameron Maybin, it should be taken seriously. Maybin possesses speed, power, defensive prowess, a strong arm, and the ability to hit for average. Scouts believe Maybin has the speed and instincts to man centerfield at the Major League level, even in the vast expanses of "Comerica National Park." Even as Maybin adds additional muscle and weight, he should be able to maintain most of his top notch speed, allowing him to remain a centerfielder. On the bases, his instincts defy his age, as he swipes bases with an ability rarely seen by teenagers.
At the plate, Cameron commands the zone reasonably well for a young player and shows the raw skills to become a patient hitter who works counts in his favor. He has struggled with breaking balls, but that should diminish with experience. His long, wiry frame has incredible raw power potential that could develop quickly given his advanced physical state. With advanced physical ability, he could hit 30-40 home runs annually. He has hit for average, and should continue to do so as he matures, given his speed and innate hand-eye coordination.
His enthusiasm for the game is infectious, and there is little standing in the way of him becoming a superstar. He works hard before and during games, and has demonstrated a willingness to put the team before his own personal goals.
Cameron's ceiling is nearly limitless. He should do everything anyone could want on a baseball field, and he should do it in a hurry. His comparisons have ranged from Vlad Guerrero and Andre Dawson, to Ken Griffey, Jr., and after such an impressive debut season, none of those comps seem too far out of whack. Maybin should be a game-changer in the Major Leagues.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A
His finger injury did not linger throughout the season, and his supreme physical state should allow him to avoid many of the nagging injuries that hinder other players.
Early indications have Maybin starting the 2007 campaign at Lakeland, before an almost certain promotion to AA-Erie for a true test. He passed his first season's test with flying colors and the Tigers are anxious to see what he can handle at his young age.
Maybin could play centerfield at the Major League level today, and his offense would likely be league average without any further progression. The Tigers won't be shy in promoting and challenging Cameron, as they shouldn't. Throughout history, special talents have risen to the challenge and progressed through the minor leagues very quickly. From my vantage point, I think Maybin will be contributing in the big leagues by the second half of the 2008 campaign, and should be a star by the close of the 2009 season.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.