Justin Maxwell to join San Francisco Giants at spring training


This is the thirteenth in a series of articles, here at Around the Foghorn, covering the 22 non-roster invitees joining the San Francisco Giants in their spring training complex this season.

Thirty-one-year-old Justin Maxwell was invited to join the San Francisco Giants in the desert for spring training, along with twenty-one other non-roster players. Maxwell, having played for the Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, and Kansas City Royals during his career, is trying to get a look-see from the Giants, who are always seeking a guy with some pop in his bat.

Justin Maxwell was drafted out of Sherwood High School by the Baltimore Orioles in the 43rd round (127th overall) of the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft, but decided to attend the University of Maryland, instead. He was drafted again in 2004 by the Texas Rangers in the tenth round (291st overall), but again declined.

Finally, in 2005, after the Washington Nationals drafted him in the fourth round (114th overall), he signed and went on to play most of the 2006 season for the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Nationals’ Short-Season A team.

The right-handed Maxwell divided his 2007 season between Low-A Hagerstown, and High-A Potomac and between the two, combined to hit .281 with 27 home runs, 83 runs batted in and 35 stolen bases. He was the only player in the minors in 2007 to hit 25 home runs, 25 doubles and have 25 stolen bases.

During his September call-up to the parent Nationals, Maxwell distinguished himself in his third pinch-hitting appearance, by hammering an 0-2 pitch from Chris Seddon of the Florida Marlins, for a grand slam and temporary 7-5 lead, in a game they would go on to lose, 13-8.

Feb 19, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy during spring training workouts at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Maxwell began the 2008 season with the Harrisburg Senators of the Double-A Eastern League, but missed most of the season with a fractured wrist, incurred while diving for a flyball in the outfield. He spent most of the 2009 season with the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League.

Late that 2009 season, when Nyjer Morgan was injured, Maxwell was called up to the Nats again and came to bat in the final home game of the season, against Francisco Rodriguez of the New York Mets. He sent the home crowd home with a walk-off-stop me if you have already heard this-grand slam home run.

2010 saw Maxwell split time between Syracuse and the Nationals.

Does he do anything but hit grand slam home runs?

On September 15th he hit yet another grand slam off of

Mike Minor

of the Atlanta Braves, giving him three grand slams in four career trips to the plate with the bases loaded in the majors.

Unfortunately, on the last Saturday of the season against the Mets, he injured his elbow diving for a ball, and the result was he underwent Tommy John Surgery to replace a ligament in his left elbow, October 13.

On February 2, 2011, the Nationals traded Maxwell to the New York Yankees for minor league pitcher Adam Olbrychowski and Maxwell began the season with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, but he tore a labrum while robbing a home run at the wall, and was released from the Yankees at the end of spring training, 2012.

On April 8th of that year, the Houston Astros claimed him off of waivers and he went on to lead the ‘Stros in home runs in 2012 with 18. He hit .223 and had 53 RBIs. On July 31st, 2013 he was traded to the Kansas City Royals, where he bounced back and forth from Triple-A Omaha to the big club, eventually being designated for assignment, June 30th, 2014.

He had excelled with the Royals during the 2013 season, but seemed to fall out of favor in 2014, even though he helped Omaha win a Pacific Coast Championship that same season. In October of 2014, he filed for free agency and signed with the Giants on December 6th.

Minor League career offensive numbers: Nine seasons/Fourteen different teams/619 G/2595 PA/2220 AB/389 R/566 H/107 2B/18 3B/92 HR/323 RBI/155 SB/41 CS/308 BB/685 SO/.255 BA/.353 OBP/.444 SLG/.796 OPS/985 TB/GDP 48/HBP/39/SH 6/SF 22/ IBB 7

Minor League defensive numbers: 592 G/1386 Ch/1325 PO/33 A/28 E/.980 Fld%

Major League career offensive numbers: Six seasons/Three teams/341 G/919 PA/808 AB/119 R/181 H/ 40 2B/7 3B/34 HR/107 RBI/26 SB/9 CS/95 BB/295 SO/.224 BA/.311/.417 SLG/.728 OPS/337 TB/14 GDP/10 HBP/0 SH/6 SF/2 IBB

Major League career defensive numbers: (All in the outfield) 273 G/530 Ch/504 PO/17 A/9 E/6 DP/.983 Fld%

Maxwell is a six-year minor league veteran and a six-year major league vet as well. What he is hoping for is to try and latch on as a reserve outfielder with a career line against left-handed hitting of .230/.344/.407. He can man all three outfield positions, though of the three, center is his weakest.

He incurred three serious injuries making three different plays in the outfield, but that also tells you a great deal about the heart of this ballplayer, who is not afraid to go all out. Giants fans have their own all-out kind of player in Angel Pagan, so they are familiar with the type.

May 16, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Angel Pagan (16) scores during the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Again, as has been repeatedly said, the Giants maintain an excellent scouting combine, so one must expect that Maxwell still has plenty going on for him, or else he would not have been invited. What he has going for him is his experience and his tenacity. Nine seasons in the minors, playing for fourteen different teams.

You have to figure that if he ever gets to the Show again, he will be willing-as always-to give it everything he’s got.