Cameron Maybin, the tenth overall pick in this summer's Amateur Draft, remains unsigned. Maybin is a young 18, a high-school outfielder who draws as-yet unfounded comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr. and Darryl Strawberry, a notable break from the Tigers' custom of drafting college pitchers in the first round (Verlander, Sleeth, Baugh). He is one of only five first round picks who haven't signed, though the others are some of the highest-profile young players -- Justin Upton (first overall pick), Alex Gordon (second), predictable contract headache and Boras client Luke Hochevar, and the player the Tigers really wanted, Mike Pelfrey (ninth). That Maybin is still cruising around without a contract is more notable news in the light that some 2005 draft picks are already close to the majors.
Why isn't Maybin playing in the Gulf Coast League or someplace? Money. From the Detroit News:
Baseball America reported last week that the Tigers have offered Maybin $1.95 million. The figure makes sense, given first-round slotting. Maybin's father apparently believes the second high-school player selected in June (behind Upton) is worthy of something closer to the cash ($4 million, probably) Upton ultimately will command. That's understandable logic, perhaps, on the part of a father who is trying his mightiest to make the best deal for his family and son. But it isn't going to change the structure of a pay scale that plays out in a remarkably equitable fashion each and every year.
Maybin and his camp aren't simply waiting around for the Tigers to raise their offer; they have a stick of their own to threaten the team with: Southern University. From the News, again
Maybin will play at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., should he opt for college. Classes begin Aug. 22. Should Maybin spurn the Tigers and enroll at Southern, Detroit would lose draft rights to him and Maybin would not be eligible for draft re-entry until 2008.
Rickie Weeks parlayed success at Southern into a #2 overall draft selection and a quick path to the majors, and Maybin would play both baseball and basketball there, and be generally a BMOC. Sounds good, right? Well, evidently Maybin has never been much of a college guy, and the Tigers aren't that worried that they'll lose him. From the News, one more time
Nothing to date suggests Maybin is as interested in those options as he is struck by the idea of getting on with his big-league baseball career, which is also the Tigers' line of thinking.
I've got to wonder if Maybin is still eligible for college. This article
from his hometown paper talks about a legal advisor (close to an agent?) and Tiger-sponsored trips to Detroit for the All-Star game, where Maybin and clan were certainly wined and dined. Were Maybin a Michigan basketball recruit, those activities would sound suspiciously Jamal Crawford-like. Perhaps he is being careful to follow the letter of the law and keep his eligibility. But it seems more likely that Southern University is a negotiation tactic that no one is buying. The GCL season ends in about three weeks -- it's pretty clear that Maybin won't be there learning how to play professional ball. Is he ready for the Arizona Fall League? It's more likely he'll be there, signed for just over $2 million, than he'll be in Baton Rouge taking freshman composition.