Female French teen makes MLB history
Shortstop Mayeux is first woman added to international registration list
At noon on Sunday afternoon, a 16-year-old French girl made Major League Baseball history.
Melissa Mayeux, a shortstop on the French U-18 junior national team, became the first known female baseball player to be added to MLB's international registration list, which means she will be eligible to be signed by a Major League club on July 2.
International prospects, Mayeux included, are typically added to the international registration list at MLB-sanctioned events after verifying their dates of birth and citizenship; while anyone can technically be added to the list, only those who have the potential to actually be signed are customarily registered.
Is it possible that Mayeux will be signed? Sure. Is it likely? Probably not, but the simple fact that Mayeux has been added to the list solidifies her status as a legitimate player. Mayeux, for her part, just wants to play. She speaks little English and is unaware that her presence on the registry might be seen as newsworthy in the United States.
"Melissa just wants to have to most opportunity she can in baseball," said Boris Rothermundt, a coach with the French national team who has been working with Mayeux since she joined the program two years ago as a member of the U-15 team. "She is not at all thinking about being the first female on the list."
Mayeux, who has been a presence on the international youth scene for a while, is simply focused on keeping her baseball career going.
"I would like very much to continue playing baseball in France until I'm 18 years old," said Mayeux, "and then have the ability to leave for university or another opportunity abroad. I'd like to stay in baseball as long as possible."
MLB Director of International Game Development Mike McClellan has been watching Mayeux play for two years.
"She's a legitimate shortstop who makes all the plays and is very smooth and fluid in the field," he said. "She swings the bat really well and is fearless."
McClellan recalls an at-bat the right-handed Mayeux had during a tournament in Barcelona in April. She was facing a 19-year-old Dominican pitcher who was throwing 91 mph, which is considerably harder than most pitchers in her age group can throw. "She ripped a base hit off of him, just to the right of second base," McClellan said. "She just went with the pitch, and she looked good doing it."
As a further testament to her athleticism, Mayeux is also a member of France's senior national softball team and often and adeptly switches between facing overhand baseball pitchers and underhand fast-pitch softball pitchers.
Mayeux is one of only four players from the French team to be selected to participate in MLB's European Elite Camp in August. There, she will work with former big league players and managers, most notably Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin. In the 10-year history of the European Elite Camp, 76 players who have been chosen to participate have gone on to sign with MLB teams. Two -- Italian Alex Liddi and German Donald Lutz -- have reached the big leagues.
"It gives us an opportunity to have the best coaches in the camp," Mayeux said. "Everyone wants to go, everyone wants to battle to get to go to the camp, and voilá."
Mayeux will also be attending a pitching and hitting camp next week in Germany, where she is slated to work on her swing and approach at the plate with two-time All-Star Steve Finley.
Mayeux's older brother Dylan, 18, also plays for the French national team -- currently the U-19 club -- and he is projected to be on the senior national team in the near future. The Mayeuxs also played together for a club team, the Cougars de Montigny-le-Bretonneux.
"I grew up with the same boys, so we've known each other since I was very little," she said. "I've never had a problem with integration or respect. We're very well connected, and that makes a good team."
Should Mayeux be signed by an MLB team, she would likely be invited to extended spring training next year for evaluation. Though even if signing a deal with a Major League organization is in the cards, it likely wouldn't come for a couple of years anyway, as European prospects -- unlike their counterparts in Latin America -- often sign when they are closer to 18, as opposed to 16.
Should she go unsigned, Mayeux would be eligible to play in the American university system. It is also a possibility that she could be one of the top 25 French players who would make the roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, when she will be two years older and likely stronger and faster. That is, if the French team doesn't -- as McClellan puts it -- "ring 'er up."
"In 2017, she'll still be on the young side, but she's improved steadily over the last two years and will continue to improve," McClellan said. "So could she play for France in the WBC? In her lifetime, I think she can."