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Top Tigers prospect Cameron Maybin showed in his professional debut that he has some pretty good tools.
And in his first postseason, he showed he may use those tools to become a special player. That's why he's being recognized with the MiLB.com Class A Playoff Performer Award.
It's the rare athlete who can raise his level of play a notch or two during the postseason to help his team win it all. Maybin did just that during the Midwest League playoffs.
After earning the league's Prospect of the Year Award by hitting .304 with 35 extra-base hits and 27 steals, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft went 12-for-35 (.343) in the postseason with six extra-base hits and a 1.068 OPS. He also played a scintillating center field.
His West Michigan Whitecaps beat the Kane County Cougars in four games to win their second championship in three years.
"Everyone wants to win a championship," Maybin said. "My first year in pro ball and we got the job done. It's a great feeling."
Maybin signed too late in 2005 to make his pro debut, so all eyes were on him as he got started in a full-season league. Intensifying the spotlight was the fact that No. 1 overall pick Justin Upton was in the same league.
In many ways, Maybin outplayed his friend in the Diamondbacks' organization. They forever may be compared as the top toolsy high school players taken in the 2005 draft.
Round One went to Maybin because he got to experience postseason success. It was Maybin who everyone in the Kane County dugout was talking about before Game 4 of the championship series. He went 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
Nothing Maybin did surprised West Michigan skipper Matt Walbeck, who could see him again when he manages Double-A Erie in 2007.
"His makeup is off the charts," Walbeck said during the championship series against Kane County. "He makes adjustments as well as anybody. He continues to improve daily. He's a great teammate. He's got great tools, so it's been fun watching him improve every day.
"The fact he's been able to play every day on a consistent basis with a great attitude (has been impressive). He recovers extremely fast. His body is a machine. I've been very surprised at his mental capacity and his potential. It's almost limitless."
Maybin reached the pinnacle in his first full year while his parent club in Detroit fell just short, falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. It's not difficult to envision Maybin patrolling center in Comerica Park and helping the Tigers get over that hump in the near future.
At the time of the championship, though, none of that entered the 19-year-old's mind.
"I'm going to enjoy this," Maybin said during the on-field celebration. "I've got to go to (the Instructional League) and then get ready for Spring Training. But I'm going to enjoy this for as long as I can."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.