"It's better late than never" is a fitting cliche for Phillies utility man John Mayberry Jr. The late bloomer has been coming into his own as of late, developing into a key offensive weapon. His play is reminiscent of a former member of the team that had a similar rise to stardom, Jayson Werth.
Mayberry, 27, is making the most of his opportunities and looking like the player worthy of being taken in the first round of the 2002 and 2005 drafts. He struggled early in the season, as he was sent down to Triple-A on two occasions.
However, his recent play will ensure he remains with the club for the duration of the season.
Mayberry has put up impressive numbers in the limited time he has been with the big club. He is batting .275 with 13 doubles,12 home runs and 41 RBI in 76 games and just 193 at-bats. His 12 home runs are now fifth-most on the team.
To put that in perspective, All-Star Shane Victorino has hit two more homers than Mayberry in 192 more at-bats, or almost twice as many as Mayberry.
Just four years ago, Werth was on the verge of turning into a good player for the Phillies. In 2007, Werth hit .298 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 41 RBI in 94 games and 255 at-bats. The next season Werth emerged as one of the Phillies best players batting .273 with 16 doubles, 24 home runs and 64 RBI in 134 games.
For what it's worth (no pun intended), Mayberry is already having a better 2011 than Werth's 2007 season.
Mayberry and Werth are very similar: Werth was the 22nd pick in the 1997 draft while Mayberry was the 19th pick in 2005. Werth did not make his debut until five years later, while it took four years for Mayberry to break into the big leagues. Both are about the same stature—Mayberry stands at 6'6'' and 230 pounds compared to Werth, who is 6'5'' and 220 pounds.
Mayberry will turn 28 in December and Werth turned 28 in 2007, right before he burst onto the scene.
However, Domonic Brown, who is currently with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, is supposed to be the Phillies' outfielder of the future. It is likely he will be called up to the majors for the Phillies' presumed playoff run, but Mayberry has played the way many thought Brown would.
Mayberry could pay big dividends if given the chance, especially with the protection provided by the Phillies' loaded lineup.
The Phillies still have plenty of time to sort through their outfield dilemma, but Mayberry should be given serious consideration for the starting outfield position next season.