With the injuries the Nats have sustained in just hte first three weeks of the season, the Nats have recalled outfielder Justin Maxwell from triple-A Syracuse.
Maxwell, a university of Maryland alumni, has had a long baseball journey. He was first drafted out of high-school in 2001 by his hometown team, the Baltimore Orioles, 1297th overall. Then after his junior season at Maryland he got drafted in the 10th round (291st overall), but elected to stay and finish out his stay in college as a Terp. Finally in 2005 he was picked by the Washington Nationals in the 4th round (114th overall).
After a frustrating appearence in rookie-ball in 2006, the former college star propelled himself up the prospect list in 2007 combining to hit .281 with 27 HR and 35 SB between Hagerstown and Patomac. This performance earned him a chance to make the big league club when the rosters expanded, where he eventually contributed a grand slam as his first big league homer.
Expected to make a push for the big league club in 2008, Maxwell started in double-A with Harrisburg, only to have a season ending injury within the first month of the season. While Maxwell still boasts great ability, and arguably the best athleticism in the whole orginization, college and injuries have led him to be rather old for his development level (25) and still not ready for full time in the bigs.
While it is nice to see this young kid up with the big league club, what he really needs are at-bats. Giving him meanlingless bench time in the Majors will only hinder his already late development. He missed all of last year with his wrist in jury, what he needs is to rehabilitate in a full time playing enviorment.
Being old for your development level doesn’t always mean your ability as a prospect is doomed. Ryan Howard for example didn’t play his first full season in the majors until he was 26. Some players, espessially college hitters with raw power (like Maxwell), need extra time to develop.
But it’s important they get that time.