It's (not quite) Maybin Time

The Cameron Maybin era started out on a low note for both Maybin and the Tigers, as Detroit fell to the Yankees by the score of 6-1. It was a rough debut for Maybin, as the top ranked prospect in the Tigers organization went 0-4, including a misplayed fly ball to left field in the sixth inning which led to two runs.

For the 20 year old it was a tough debut as he went from top prospect to Major League leftfielder in a matter of a day, but though the opening act didn't get a glowing review the feature presentation looks to be something special in the coming years.

The tools Maybin possess are both well-known and well-documented. His speed, ability to hit for average, hit power, throw and field his position make him the classic five-tool prospect. Yet, as exciting as it is to imagine a fully developed Maybin grazing the centerfield at Comerica Park (or left or right, if Curtis Granderson has anything to do with it), the plain and simple fact is this: he is an unproven 20 year old rookie who, in my estimation should not have been called up this early. This point of view does not come after watching Andy Pettite make Maybin look like a Little Leaguer, but entered my mind as soon as I heard the news.

First and foremost, the Tigers have plenty of outfielders to choose from: Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, Marcus Thames, Ryan Raburn and even Gary Sheffield. It may not be a clog of outfielders, but they have all proven to be more than capable of producing at the plate and in the field this season. To rush, and yes I believe Cameron Maybin was rushed, a 20 year old prospect when he is not absolutely needed is not a smart baseball decision with the playoff run the team is currently in.

Over the past few years the other young players who have been brought up early have lived up to their billing – and Maybin will too, just not this season. In the case of Jeremy Bonderman the 2003 Tigers were going nowhere and could afford time let the young ace come into his own. Last year both Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya were the best viable options for the rotation and bullpen, respectively, and they proved to be outstanding rookies.

This year however, the Tigers may have gone 0-2 in calling up prized rookies. Just as Maybin will surely do in the coming games, Andrew Miller showed the stuff that has had the organization buzzing, but with sub-par numbers and a case of wildness he has to do quite a bit to truly help the Tigers down the stretch.

Another big issue I have with Maybin getting called up is that once again Marcus Thames is unable to showcase what he can do when given the chance to play everyday. Though it is safe to say that once Maybin catches up with the speed of the Major League game he will be a more productive bat than Craig Monroe was this season, Thames was already that with more power and the learning curve behind him.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming days as the Tigers look to do something with Craig Monroe. Perhaps Maybin has just a few days to give the Tigers a glimpse of the future, or maybe he is up for good and will become a valuable part of the team in the final month of the season. Either way, Cameron Maybin is destined for great things in his Major League career – I just don't believe we'll see those great things in 2007.

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