Tigers Prospect Profile #1: Cameron Maybin

On Tuesday, when the Tigers agreed in principle to a the blockbuster 8-player trade, the key component for the Marlins was 20-year old stud outfielder Cameron Maybin. What did the Tigers give up, and what are the Marlins getting in Maybin?

Cameron Maybin
Position: Outfielder
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200
Born: 4/4/1987
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
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 home runs – during the Instructional League. 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 (.384), slugging (.457), and OPS (.841). All this led to his being named the TigsTown Organizational Player of the Year, an award befitting such an elite talent.

The 2007 season saw much of the same for Maybin, at least in terms of on field success at the minor league level. Despite battling an injured shoulder while at Lakeland, Maybin posted a .304/.392/.486 line in 83 games for the Flying Tigers. Maybin's 25 steals ranked him 8th in the Florida State League. After coming back from a stint in the GCL to get rolling after some time on the disabled list, Maybin was promoted to AA-Erie, where he put on a brief six game offensive display; knocking a double and four home runs in 20 at-bats. After that explosive showing, the Tigers promoted Maybin to Detroit in hopes that he could provide the spark the team needed down the stretch. Despite his struggles in Detroit, he was shipped off to the Arizona Fall League where his bum left shoulder shut him down early. Despite such disappointment, he still rated as the top prospect in the league according to Baseball America.

Scouting Report
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. Though some bystanders question his defensive abilities in light of his brief time in Detroit, most scouts are still sold on his long term potential in center field. Even as Maybin adds additional muscle and weight, he should be able to maintain most of his top notch speed, allowing him to remain in the center of the field. 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, leading to some lofty strikeout totals, 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 homeruns 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; even in a tough environment in Lakeland in 2007.

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. While those comparisons may seem quite lofty, we are talking about a player with game changing ability.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

A+

Lakeland

296

.304

14

10

44

83

43

.393

.486

AA

Erie

20

.400

1

4

8

6

6

.538

.1.050

ML

Detroit

49

.143

3

1

2

21

3

.208

.265


Health Record
In two seasons Maybin has seen a freak finger injury and a bum shoulder caused by an aggressive defensive play. Neither speaks towards concerns of an injury-plagued player, but it does bear watching going forward to ensure it does not become a trend.

The Future
With the trade to Florida, Maybin will likely be given a legitimate opportunity to snatch the center field job in spring training. There is little doubting his raw ability, but there may be some question whether he is truly ready to compete everyday at the Major League level.

He still has the same freakish abilities, and it is possible that given his struggles in Detroit, he may have a better picture of what he needs to do to become the superstar he is capable of becoming. Look for Maybin to get back to the big leagues at some point in 2008, and I doubt he'll leave for a long time after that return.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.


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