SAN DIEGO -- Say the name Cameron Maybin and most people think upside, as the former first-round pick of the Detroit Tigers makes managers and scouts salivate with his size, speed and strength.
Yet for the past four seasons, the outfielder has bounced between the minors and majors. This season, the Padres center fielder says that changes.
"I think this year is going to be that year," Maybin said. "Getting an opportunity to play every day, that I haven't had yet, I think this is a great place to do so. I watched guys like (outfielder) Will Venabe get a job and play every day and go through ups and downs. I'm looking forward to doing that. I think when that's all said and done, I think everything will definitely take off for me."
At 6' 3" and 210 pounds, Maybin stands about the same size as Venable and has the speed to match Venable's team-leading 29 stolen bases of a year ago. Maybin stole nine bases last season with the Marlins and had a .234 batting average with nine home runs. But Venable sees those numbers improving dramatically.
"I've been a fan of his since I saw him play in A-ball and I got a chance to play with him as a teammate in the fall league," Venable said. "The only thing that's keeping him from being the player he can be is just the opportunity where he doesn't have to look over his shoulder, and I think he's going to get it here. You are going to see a five-tool player that's pretty special."
The 23-year-old has spent time in and around professional baseball since he was old enough to hold a bat.
He served as a batboy for the single-A team in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina where he first met his future teammate, first baseman Brad Hawpe.
"He would run around and probably get me hot dogs or something like that," Hawpe said. "It's funny to play with him now. I know he's got a lot of talent. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can get out of him. Obviously he's a young player. He's going to have some tough times, and he's going to have some times to look pretty good, so I'll be there to help him out however I can."
Maybin wears the number 24, in honor of one of his favorite players, Ken Griffey Jr.
Like that kid, this kid wants to make an impact all over the field.
"I just think the combination of being able to change the game in a lot of different ways: defensively, offensively, being on the base passes, just creating a little bit of havoc on the opposing team," Maybin said. "I think I bring a lot of different aspects to this team."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times