Sometimes it helps to be in ‘old media.’ As old media, Baseball America actually publishes a magazine about baseball (making us just about the only people who do that anymore), and we have an actual office. Because we were once owned by the man (Miles Wolff) who owned the Durham Bulls, we are based in Durham, N.C.
Being in Durham actually has made sense for what we do, covering baseball from a scouting and player-development point of view, because of North Carolina’s amazing baseball diversity. The state has produced two high school players drafted No. 1 overall (Brien Taylor, 1991, and Josh Hamilton, 1999), and has strong college baseball programs in the Triangle area with Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State, not to mention nearby schools such as East Carolina, UNC Charlotte and UNC Wilmington. And we can drive to games at five different pro levels, from Rookie (Burlington, Appy League), low and high Class A (Greensboro, Kinston, Winston-Salem), Double-A (Caroina in Zebulon, N.C.) and Triple-A (the Bulls, a two-block walk from our current office).
This April, our location is going to give us an extra treat, as we learned yesterday. The Marlins have sent outfielder Cameron Maybin down to Double-A Carolina to begin the season, and the Rays have continued their generosity of late, sending third baseman Evan Longoria back to Triple-A Durham. Shortstop Reid Brignac will join him. Forgive us for giggling with glee at our good fortune, even if it comes at those players’ expense.
Longoria’s demotion comes as a surprise. Many of us traipsed two blocks to see Longoria last year when he came to Durham for the season’s final two months (counting playoffs), and most of us thought that was the last time we’d see him in a Bulls uniform. He quickly adjusted to the speed of the game at the Triple-A level and was the Bulls’ most consistent player offensively and defensively while he was there, hitting for power, drawing walks and playing excellent defense while bringing energy and confidence to the team.
Maybin’s assignment to Carolina makes sense in that he’s still just 20 (though he’ll be 21 on the day of the Mudcats’ second game at Mobile), and he’s not shown that he’s ready offensively. He did tear up Double-A last year, but it was in just six games—six great games, though, as he went 8-for-20 with four homers, six walks and six strikeouts. Sure, he homered off Roger Clemens last year for his first big league hit with the Tigers, but he hit just .143, and among his 49 at-bats, he liberally sprinkled in 21 strikeouts. Spring stats aren’t a great gauge of whether or not a player is ready, but Maybin went 8-for-42 with 15 more strikeouts this spring.
A mild hamstring pull early in camp didn’t help his cause, and it doesn’t look good for a top prospect to get beat out for a big league job by the likes of Alfredo Amezaga, Alejandro de Aza and Cody Ross (himself a former Tigers farmhand). But for the Marlins, it makes sense for Maybin to start the year in the minors, and it makes sense for that start to come in Zebulon.
We couldn’t be happier about it.
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