Christopher Maples has played seven different positions so for this season—every one except for centerfield and catcher. His versatility has been a huge asset for Erie. While he admits to being more comfortable in the infield, he asserts that his favorite position is "whatever one will get me to the big leagues."
While other players may gripe while being moved around the diamond, Maples doesn't let his ego get in the way. He considers himself very "open-minded," and say that with his personality, he gets "bored doing the same thing every day." "It makes the game more exciting," he says, "getting to see where I'll be playing each game."
While others might be put off by the "utility man" label, Chris takes it as an honor. "It just means that you're dependable at more than one thing." He sees his flexibility as an advantage, noting how it helps him get in the game now and could continue to find him spots in the future.
More than his defensive ability, Maples believes that it's his success at the plate that keeps him in the lineup. "If you're hitting, they'll find a place to put you." And he has been hitting. Maples has been a solid clutch performer for the SeaWolves this season, very "reliable when the team's needed something." "When guys are on base, I've been hitting them in," he says.
While some scouts have been surprised by the power he has exhibited the past few seasons, Maples contests that he's known it was there since putting on an extra 15 pounds before his senior season. Maples admits that he still needs to work on his plate discipline and pitch selection. "I need to start taking more pitches, lowering strikeouts and drawing more walks."
The biggest thing he's improved on is his confidence. "Like my coaches have always said, ‘This game will pass you by if you're not careful,' so I go at it as hard as I can. You have to act like there's no tomorrow because you never know when something might happen." And if these adjustments are made, opposing pitchers are going to have an even tougher time getting him out.
The confidence even pours over to the mound. A former pitcher at the University of North Carolina, Maples has been asked to pitch a few times in his minor league career and done well with it. He calls pitching "something to fall back on," and believes that with his rested arm and the strength he has added since playing professionally, he could succeed as a pitcher at the AA level.
On his future, Maples responds, "Honestly, I don't know." All he can do is continue to play his game, help his team win and try to "get a shot" at playing in bigger parks. "I have to go out and do my thing. Hopefully what I do will be good enough to show somebody something." The only sure thing is that he'll find a way to get on the field, no matter where he has to play.