Is this the year for Cameron Maybin? 

April, 1, 2011
4/01/11
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Once upon a time, a friend of mine owned and loved a certain 19-year-old Tampa Bay Rays outfielder named B.J. Upton, and he protected him for multiple seasons in our keeper league. Upton made it to the big leagues as a teenager in 2004, and we could see there was an intriguing talent lurking. Alas, Upton didn't do much until emerging in 2007, and while my friend kept him for a few seasons with little payoff, by then he had given up. Someone else has enjoyed Upton's rise (and, in a way, has been frustrated, as well!). In that same keeper league, I'm going through a similar situation with San Diego Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin, and Thursday's performance has my head spinning.

[+] EnlargeCameron Maybin
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty ImagesCameron Maybin debuted with the Tigers in 2007 at the tender age of 20.
Think about the comparisons. Like Upton, the Detroit Tigers made Maybin a first-round pick (10th overall). He was rushed to the big leagues at age 20, fueling expectations. Unlike Upton, Maybin is now on his third big league team, but he's still teasing managers, scouts and fantasy owners with his raw skills. In Thursday's opener in St. Louis, Maybin hit seventh for the Padres, providing largely inconsistent at-bats until -- naturally -- smacking a monster, game-tying home run off Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin with two outs in the ninth inning. Two innings later, after an opposite-field single that led to the go-ahead runs, he limped off the field with lower leg cramps.

I admit I'm perplexed on how to evaluate Maybin's future. He should hit for moderate power -- this was a no-doubt, center field blast he smacked -- and he can run well enough to pile on the steal bases. He's raw, but here's an athlete who can hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the big leagues, and soon. Unfortunately, Maybin often has little clue how to handle the strike zone, as he's likely to produce prodigious strikeout totals as well. The Padres wanted him for the potential, but he's also perfect defensively for spacious Petco Park; he's a terrific center fielder. Really, when I think of giving up on Maybin, I think of my friend and how he's missing out on Upton. I don't want to miss out, too! And Maybin turns 24 on Monday, so he still time to figure this all out. I just would like to know when!

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