Tigers tab Maybin with top pick
Five-tool high school outfielder taken No. 10 overall
The legend goes that Tigers first-round pick Cameron Maybin hit a 490-foot homer as a junior in high school at Asheville, N.C. Turns out the legend is wrong.
Maybin hit it further.
It came during a road game for T.C. Roberson High School, and head coach Tom Smith didn't want to show up the other coach by measuring it himself. The opposing coach, who was curious, offered to measure it for him.
"The coach that measured it ran out of tape at 490 feet," Smith said. "It was one that was rising over the light towers as it left."
The longest home run hit in a game at Comerica Park, coincidentally, was estimated at 457 feet without tape. But to obsess over Maybin's power would be to miss out on four of the five tools, not to mention a kid the Tigers believe has tremendous makeup.
David Chadd's first draft as Tigers scouting director Tuesday landed Detroit one of the best high school athletes on the board with the 10th overall pick, an unexpected surprise that far down.
"It really didn't come together until literally 15 minutes before the draft even started," Chadd said. "There was that much disarray at the top. Obivously, we couldn't be happier."
Nor could Maybin, who celebrated with more than a hundred friends and family members as a restaurant in his hometown.
"I know they're young and they struggled quite a bit," Maybin said. "They're on the way up, so hopefully I can get up through the Minor Leagues and get there soon."
He already has a goal on how soon. "Three years," he said.
The high school all-American became just the second position player in the last six years to be selected with the Tigers' top pick, and only the second high school position player in the last 11 years.
Baseball America rated Maybin as the second-best high school player available, behind only Upton. He ranked second among high school players both for power hitting and five-tool talent, and fourth for defense and baserunning speed.
He set a state record with a .662 batting average as a senior at Roberson this season. He added 15 home runs and 32 stolen bases.
"He has tremendous power," Smith said. "To watch him to take a round of batting practice, I'll tell you, it was a treat."
To think of him like a free-swinging power hitter such as Preston Wilson, however, would be a bit much. Much as Smith likes to share the story about a 490-foot homer, he has another memory.
With numerous scouts in attendance at Roberson's first game of the season, Maybin was expected to put on a show. Instead, he walked each of his first two times at the plate, neither of them intentional. On his third at-bat, he finally saw a strike, which he took. He hit a line-drive home run on the next pitch.
"Sometimes he'll have a wild swing and blast it," Roberson coach Tom Smith said.
Maybin added to his resume in two summer league seasons for Cincinnati's Midland Redskins. He won the league batting title with a .464 mark (70-for-151) with 11 home runs and 61 RBIs. He homered five times in last summer's Connie Mack World Series, one of them an inside-the-park home run.
Maybin was expected to be selected sooner, possibly as early as the top five picks. Once teams ahead of Detroit began looking elsewhere, reportedly due to signability issues, the Tigers had a decision to make. That decision became easier once Mike Pelfrey, the Wichita State pitcher Chadd had eyed for some time, was selected by the Mets with the ninth overall pick.
The Tigers did not have a chance to bring in Maybin for a workout, but they had heavily scouted his games and heard enough about his workouts for other teams, one as recently as last Friday for Washington.
"Detroit got a bargain," Smith said. "I was surprised [he fell that far] just because of the number of people coming around to check him out."
The signability concern was believed to come out of a quote from a family member. Both Chadd and Maybin's adviser, Brian Goldberg, said they anticipated a fair negotiation that would net a deal.
"Both sides are really going to try to negotiate in good faith and try to accelerate the process," Chadd said.
Maybin isn't the only draft prospect in his family this year. His cousin, Rashad McCants, starred in basketball at the University of North Carolina and could be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft later this month. McCants attended Maybin's draft celebration Tuesday, and Maybin plans to return the favor.
The two grew up together, albeit a few years apart, and the attention McCants has received at North Carolina has helped him pass along advice to Maybin on dealing with potential stardom.
T.C. Roberson High School
Position: OF B/T: R/R
H: 6'3" W: 200
Born: 1987-04-04 Class: HS
Medium-large frame. Plus body. Evenly proportioned. High waist, long limbs, especially arms.Tremendous bat speed. Generates a lot of lift in the ball. Long arms provide plenty of plate coverage. Has toyed with the idea of switch-hitting.
Another cousin, Marques Maybin, starred in basketball at the University of Louisville. Cameron Maybin also excelled in basketball in high school before giving it up his senior season to focus on baseball. The two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Southern University, though he's expected to pass that up to join the Tigers.
"I always thought I would make my living playing baseball," Maybin said. "It's my first love."
Maybin was exposed to pro baseball at a young age, serving as a batboy for the nearby Asheville Tourists of the Class A South Atlantic League. Former Rockies reliever Darren Holmes gave him a similar perspective on pro ball as a coach at Roberson High School.
Topping all that, however, was Maybin's chance to forge a relationship with his idol. His advisor, Goldberg, also represents Cincinnati Reds All-Star Ken Griffey Jr., and was able to set up a meeting during Spring Training. What was expected to be a half-hour get-together lasted nearly five hours between the two, who shared the same coach at Midland.
Griffey took Maybin and his family out for dinner that night, and has given advice ever since. They spoke the night before the draft and soon after Maybin was selected.
"He's been awesome," Maybin said. "[He said] when I get out there, don't do anything out of myself. Just play within myself and have fun when I go out there. He's given me great advice."
By then, he was already earning comparisons to Griffey, something he found more flattering than nerve-wracking.
"No pressure," Maybin said. "I'm not trying to be like anybody else. I'm just trying to be the next Cameron Maybin."
Maybin was born in 1987, the same year that Griffey was drafted. It's also the same year the Tigers last made the playoffs. Their struggles in the draft played a part in that drought, but they're hoping Maybin will be a major part of changing that fortune.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.