My final “Royals Where are They Now?” piece has come via a request from a fellow Kings of Kauffman writer. Who wouldn’t want to hear about the great Mitch Maier?
June 10, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Mitch Maier (12) reacts after striking out with the bases loaded as home plate umpire Derryl Cousin (right) looks on against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Maier was drafted in the first round (30th overall) by the KC Royals in the 2003 MLB Draft out of the University of Toledo as a catcher (he was their second pick of the first round that year). He actually only caught one season and that was his very first in rookie ball. In 2004, Maier moved to third base and that lasted just one season, as he committed 28 errors combined between both A-ball levels.
So in 2005, Maier moved to the outfield, a position that he is currently still playing. He started the season in High-A High Desert and hit .336, leading to a promotion to Double-A Wichita (.250). He returned to Wichita in 2006 and hit .306 with 14 home runs. That led to his first big league promotion (he debuted on September 23rd).
Even though he hit a respectable .279 with 29 doubles and 14 home runs in his first season with Triple-A Omaha (in all 140 games), Maier was not called up in 2007. The following season, he hit .316 in 85 games and was promoted at the end of July to the big leagues for the rest of the 2008 season.
In 2009, Maier started the season back in Omaha, but was called up after just six games. He was sent back down in the middle of July (All-Star break), but was back up for good after six games. With the Royals in 2009, he played in 127 games, the most in his career at the big league level.
Maier spent the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons in the big leagues with the Royals. However in 2012, he started in the big leagues and was back to the minors at the All-Star break and never returned. He is still looking to get back to the Majors. In that season with Omaha, Maier played nine games at first base and even pitched.
His power has not returned since back-to-back seasons of 14 homers (2006-2007). He also did not steal more than 13 bases in a single season.
2013 saw Maier out of the Royals organization for the first time in his career. He hit .310 with Triple-A Pawtucket (in the Boston Red Sox organization), but those numbers came in just 31 games. He missed a month (from the end of April until the end of May) and then went out again a month later, only to play one more game on August 2nd. In spring training with the Red Sox as a non roster invite, he severely sprained his wrist.
This past December, Maier signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs (it also included a big league invite). However, he has yet to see game action because of back problems that began right before the Cactus League schedule started. No word on if he will miss all of spring training, but he will most likely be back in the minors once again.