In what Major League Baseball says is a first, French baseball player Melissa Mayeux has had her name added to the list of international prospects who could be signed by clubs on July 2.
At age 16, Mayeux plays shortstop for two of France's national teams: the U-18 junior squad and the senior softball team. She's known as a smooth fielder who can also handle a bat.
"I would like very much to continue playing baseball in France until I'm 18 years old," Mayeux tells MLB.com, "and then have the ability to leave for university or another opportunity abroad. I'd like to stay in baseball as long as possible."
While Mayeux is considered a long-shot to be taken by an MLB team in July, her baseball career still has room to grow. The possibilities include her playing in the 2017 World Baseball Classic tournament — and maybe suiting up for an American college team someday.
Mayeux seems to have a knack for rising to the moment. When her softball team played a team of young Americans earlier this year, she delivered what France's Hit'nRun website called "une grosse frappe" that led her team's comeback from an 0-3 deficit. They went on to beat the U.S. squad.
The MLB's director of international development, Mike McClellan, tells MLB.com that he's watched Mayeux play over the past two years — including a tournament in Spain this past April, where she was confronted with a 19-year-old Dominican pitcher who threw around 91 mph.
"She ripped a base hit off of him, just to the right of second base," McClellan said.
Over at SB Nation, a panel of women who cover baseball discussed the potential impact Mayeux could have. Several participants agreed that while having her name on the international registration list is an important step, an MLB team should sign Mayeux only if she has room to develop within its organization.
And, says Megan Rowley of SB Nation's Lookout Landing, "I think it does highlight that when a woman does come up in the majors she might well be an international player because girls play baseball in other countries and don't get relegated to softball (not that there is anything wrong with softball)."