Without stepping foot in the United States, a 16-year old French teenager named Melissa Mayeux made MLB history on Sunday afternoon. She plays shortstop on the French U-18 junior national team, and just became the first woman to be added to MLB's international registration list. Mayeux will now be eligible to be signed by an MLB team on July 2nd.
While her chances of actually being signed are not strong, she seems genuine, and this does not appear to be a publicity stunt. She can truly play, and according to her coach, Boris Rothermundt, she simply wants "to have to [sic] most opportunity she can in baseball. She is not at all thinking about being the first female on the list."
Mike McClellan, MLB's Director of International Game Development, has been watching Mayeux play for the last two years and has nothing but good things to say about her. "She's a legitimate shortstop who makes all the plays, and is very smooth and fluid in the field. She swings the bat really well and is fearless."
McClellan later recalled an at-bat she took in a tournament in Barcelona where she was facing a 19-year old Domincan pitcher who threw 91 MPH, which is considerably faster than what she was used to. However, Mayeux didn't back down and "ripped a base hit off of him, just to the right of second base. She just went with the pitch, and she looked good doing it."
Mayeux is one of just four players from the French team who was selected to participate in MLB's European Elite Camp, where she'll work with former big league players and managers; one of whom is Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin. She's also set to attend a pitching and hitting camp next week in Germany, where Mayeux will get tips on her swing from former outfielder Steve Finley.
European prospects typically don't sign until they're 18 or 19, which unfortunately means there's even less of a chance of an MLB team selecting Mayeux. Should she go unsigned, Mayeux would be eligible to play in the American University system if that's the route she wants to take. While she'll be just 18 in 2017, her coach thinks that she could very well make the WBC roster for the French team.
The odds are against Mayeux for many reasons, but all she wants is to "stay in baseball as long as possible". This is a great story, and comes on the heels of Mo'ne Davis, and Sarah Hudek pushing the boundaries of women playing baseball. Mayeux, and any woman for that matter, should be celebrated for being brave enough to follow their dreams and going against the grain of what's been traditionally a mans game. We should only be evaluating players based off of their skill set, and if the scouting reports are true, Mayeux is just as good as the boys she competes with.