Different backgrounds, same destination
Stanford's Mayberry and Lowrie impress the scouts
STANFORD, Calif. -- John Mayberry Jr. had everything going for him during his senior year at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo. He had the size (6-foot-5, 230), the talent and the blood lines that tend to make Major League scouts scrawl glorious adjectives across pages of notebooks.At age 18, the son of former Major Leaguer John Mayberry Sr. could have started a healthy bank account. The Seattle Mariners made him their first round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, the 28th pick overall. Instead he chose to attend Stanford University, and three years later his baseball stock is as high as ever. He's worked hard enough in the classroom to be within a quarter of graduation, so when the Majors come calling June 7, Mayberry is prepared to take the next step. Fellow Stanford junior Jed Lowrie (6-0, 185) wasn't on anybody's radar screen coming out of North Salem High in Oregon. Stanford was one of just a handful of schools who came calling and he didn't get much of a sniff from the scouts. He went undrafted in 2002. Lowrie figures he got the better of the deal anyway. Already set to attend college, his stock has risen nearly as high as Mayberry's and is on the verge of reaching the goal he set as a young player of playing professional baseball. Mayberry and Lowrie have both received several honors the past three years, including All-American recognition, and both played for Team USA over the summer. "Like a lot of better players who have been through here, they have both meant a lot to this program," Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "We're very proud of what they've accomplished. You have a high profile first-round pick with a lot of pressure because of who his dad is, and then you have someone no one knows about that comes in and now he's gotten to the same place. Marquess has been around a long time -- he's in his 29th year at Stanford -- and has developed a three-year program in which the juniors would need less than a year to complete their degree should they get drafted and sign professionally. Mayberry had an immediate impact as a freshman, starting 45 games and hitting .299 with four home runs and 33 RBIs. He recorded a 16-game hitting streak that year that remains his career best. He also appeared in the College World Series. He has a .312 career average with 26 homers and 143 RBIs in 168 games. In addition, he's considered one of the top defensive first basemen in the nation. "Defense is critical, and we have a great infield defense," Marquess said. "Mayberry is a big part of that. He's been invaluable over there because it's so hard to miss him. You can't throw it over his head. When he stretches full he saves an error and he's maybe done that 20 times this year." Mayberry, who's been a high profile player for a few years and knows he'll get drafted again, was more focused on the regionals, the first level of postseason play leading to the College World Series, the weekend of June 3-5. "We have an opportunity and we're capable of doing anything," he said. "We have to go out and play solid baseball." Lowrie was also focused on regional play but at the same time he realizes his dream of playing pro ball is less than a week away.
"I would be lying if I said (the draft) never crossed my mind," the second baseman said. "Playing in the Major Leagues is why I play the game. That's my goal. I've had a great time at Stanford and made some friends for life. I've always had high expectations for myself."Lowrie worked his way into the starting lineup as a freshman and batted .292 but he didn't hit a home run and drove in just 28. Last year, he flirted with .400 most of the season (ending at .399) and hit 17 homers with 68 RBIs. He has a career mark of .338 with 29 homers and 158 RBI. "John is not having nearly the year you'd expect but he's also not getting the same pitches," Marquess said. "With Jed, there was no way any one could have another year like he did. They have both done a great job for us." Said Lowrie: "To be able to perform like I have feels good because it means a lot of hard work has paid off, and with the draft coming up, well, I guess as it gets closer, it will finally sink in."
Rick Eymer is a contributing writer to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.