Kings in Spring (Pt. 2.5)
I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been mainly paying attention to the Mariners and Rangers systems at the present, but I’ve forgotten to include Philadelphia Phillies’ outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. (’06).
For those who don’t pay attention to the minor trades of the offseason (or forget about them, like myself), Mayberry was sent to the defending World Champs for centerfielder Greg Golson in November. Mayberry was drafted in the first round of the 2002 June draft by the Mariners but did not sign, then went to Stanford and was drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Rangers. Golson was likewise a first-round pick, drafted in 2004 by the Phillies.
Mayberry had been included on the Rangers’ 40-man roster but was not called up at the end of last season despite decent power numbers in triple-A Oklahoma (.263, 16 HR, 58 RBI, .474 SLG). Obviously the breakout of Josh Hamilton and the rising stock of both David Murphy and Nelson Cruz (mix in Brandon Boggs (’05) as well) put Mayberry on the backburner in the outfield, and his conversion back to first base was no longer necessary after what Chris Davis did as a rookie last year.
Now, with the Phillies, he’s getting a long look at big-league camp. Through the first six games, nobody has more plate appearances than Mayberry. In his first 17 at-bats, he’s doubled twice, homered and driven in five runs while posting .353 average. If he can keep up that pace, he COULD make the roster ahead of vets like Geoff Jenkins and Matt Stairs. Again, keeping up that torrid pace is the key, especially since he’s now playing in the National League and there’s no DH spot for Jenkins/Stairs.
Still, it’s good to see early success out of Mayberry. He was one of the lone offensive bright spots of our dismal 2006 season (also my first with the club) when we set the club record for worst record at 45-94. No small task considering our franchise dates back to 1937.
Mayberry blasted 21 home runs that season, making him the first of three successive LumberKings to hit 21 in a season — one short of the 47-year-old franchise record of 22 held by Dick Kenworthy. Someday we’ll see that record OFFICIALLY fall, but Mayberry for all intensive purposes tied it that year. On a cold April day at Fifth Third Ballpark in West Michigan, he crushed a ball well inside the left-field foul pole that replacement umpires did not see. It was called foul to the disagreement of basically everyone in the park that day. Kenworthy’s record withstood the threat, and “The Ghost of Kenworthy” myth was born.
I doubt “Big John” is worried about that record these days.