John Mayberry Jr. made quite an auspicious 2011 debut with the Phillies on opening day at Citizens Bank Park. On Friday April 1st, Mayberry’s dramatic bottom of the ninth inning pinch-hit single, capped a three-run rally, which gave the defending Eastern Division champions a come-from-behind 5-4 victory.
What made the hit even more impressive was the fact that the clutch hit came off of a right-handed pitcher, Brandon Lyon, exactly the type of pitcher that had given Mayberry fits throughout his career, and perhaps prevented big John from reaching the majors full time.
All throughout Mayberry’s minor league career, right-handed hurlers have abused the tall slugger, contributing greatly to the fact that he had struck out in 24.6% of his minor league at bats. In fact, in Mayberry’s brief major league appearances entering this season, he had totaled 14 strikeouts in a mere 26 at bats versus right-handers, a frightening percentage of .538. To add to his woes, Mayberry had only accumulated four hits in those at bats for a batting average of .154.
However, Mayberry absolutely destroys southpaws, which is why the Phillies still have high hopes for the tall, powerful, rangy outfielder. At 6’6” tall and 235 pounds, the twenty-seven year old slugger cuts an impressive figure at bat, and his long graceful strides in the outfield and strong throwing arm, make for an excellent defender. If Phillies hitting coach, Greg Gross, can get the youngster to consistently keep his shoulder in against tough right-handers, there is still plenty of time for Mayberry to carve out a successful major league career.
Mayberry attended Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri, where he made his niche as a nationally known prospect. Not lacking for brains, the youngster then accepted an athletic scholarship to Stanford University, where he made such a good impression that he was chosen to play in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League in the summer of 2003. The league features a collection of the best collegiate talent in the country. Starring for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox that summer, Mayberry blasted his way to a .375 average.
Young Mayberry was then selected by the Texas Rangers in the first round of the 2005 draft. Such was his promise that he was selected 19th overall. Prior to that, Mayberry was selected in the first round (28th overall) of the 2002 draft by the Seattle Mariners, however, his priorities placed education first, as he chose rather to attend Stanford University.
Mayberry was acquired by the Phillies on November 20, 2008 for outfielder Greg Golson. John’s powerful stroke has resulted in his clouting 110 minor league home runs including 28 for our hometown Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. He also stole 21 bases in only 24 attempts last season, showing off his base-running skills.
In Mayberry’s first major league game on May 23, 2009, he blasted a three-run home run off of New York Yankee ace left-hander Andy Pettitte. Young Mayberry’s bloodlines are also impressive, as his dad is none other than John Mayberry Sr., a slugger who toiled fifteen years in the majors with the Houston Astros, the Kansas City Royals, the Toronto Blue Jays and the N.Y. Yankees.
The elder Mayberry was a feared hulking left-handed slugger who blasted 255 home runs in his illustrious career. John’s dad slammed over 20 home runs eight times in his career, twice topping the 30 mark. He also managed to knock in 100 runs three times. One thing is for certain, if young Mayberry can continue to make strides against tough right-handers, Charlie Manuel will give him increased playing time.
Editor's Note: As of this posting, Mayberry is 4-for-9 with a walk against right-handed pitchers so far this season.