Joe Altobelli, the Rochester Red Wings radio analyst, called Jason Kubel a "young Roger Maris" in 2004.
If there is anyone worthy enough to bestow that title upon him it's Altobelli, who became close friends with Maris many years ago in the Cleveland farm system.
A sweet swinging left-handed outfielder/designated hitter from South Dakota, Kubel's promising career (2004 Minor League Player of the Year) as a Minnesota Twin took a detour in 2006 when he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
While that may have been a slight setback to his career, it appears Kubel is back on the right track, posting a career high in home runs and RBI in 2008.
With a new contract in hand, look for Kubel's pristine potential to culminate into the Jason Kubel who has only been seen in glimpses, such as the walk-off grand slam against the Boston Red Sox from 2006.
And why not? Kubel, 27 in May, is entering his prime years. His SLG percentage has ascended every year since he was called up and he is completely healthy entering this year.
Here is a line to watch for: .290/.355(OBP)/.503(SLG) with an RBI total in the upper 80s to low 90s.