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Dillon Maples looks to tap into vast potential

Dillon Maples looks to tap into vast potential

A year ago, Dillon Maples was the Cubs highest profile signing and immediately stepped in as arguably the Cubs best pitching prospect.  They paid the right-hander $2.5M to forgo the opportunity to play both baseball and football at the University of North Carolina.

Since then, he has slipped a bit into the background.  The Cubs have added Arodys Vizcaino, Pierce Johnson, Juan Carlos Paniagua, and Duane Underwood, all of whom, along with Maples, are jockeying to position themselves as the Cubs top pitching prospect.  An injury that kept him out until late this season didn't help, as has his inability to consistently find the plate.

Despite the huge bonus, Maples is by no means a can't-miss prospect.  There was some mixed opinion when he was drafted and while some, like the Cubs, saw him as a first round talent, others saw some serious flaws.  There was enough doubt to push him down draft boards and put his signability into question.

Most of those doubts stem from a delivery that is...well, not ideal.  He has good arm action, but it's short, almost as if he's punching the ball toward home plate.  He doesn't drive downward at the end of his delivery, he lands almost upright.  It puts  lot of strain on his arm and makes it difficult for him to stay consistent and develop good command.

The old regime wasn't worried, but since then the concerns about his command and susceptibility to injury have proven to be valid ones.  Without having seen him yet, I imagine that the Cubs will tinker with that delivery this fall.

What is not in doubt is Maples' stuff and his ability to miss bats. Reports from his stint in the Arizona Rookie League had Maples at 92-96 mph with a good curveball.

But while the potential is evident, the results have been spotty. Maples workes 10.1 innings, posting a 4.35 ERA. He allowed just 6 hits and struck out 12, but he also walked 10 batters.

So far in instructs, the control problems have persisted. Per The Cub Reporter, Maples has walked 5 batters in 3.2 innings. He also has remained tough to hit. In fact, he has yet to allow one while striking out 5.

Maples has as much raw ability as any of the Cubs top pitching prospects, but tapping into it may depend on cleaning up his delivery and learning to command his great stuff. While the Cubs have added to their stable, they are still in dire need of impact talent on the mound. Maples development this fall would be a big boost in that pursuit.

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  • That's an old video from, I'm guessing, his high school days. Seems like some sort of an all star game.

    Hopefully the coaching staff has changed his mechanics. That short arm action looks like a rotator cuff injury waiting to happen.

  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    Aflac All-Str Game. I haven't seen any updated video but I do know the Cubs had no intention of changing it when he was drafted. Since then he's been hurt and has pitched 10 innings. I'm hoping to get to AZ for instructs in couple of weeks and seeing if he's improved that delivery is high on the agenda.

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    What if he wears garters and learns to breath out of his eyelids?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Nuke Maples!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    In reply to your point at the bottom, I think it is exciting to see all the pitching talent at the low end of the minors. Adding Maples to the others you mention, you really can see one of Theo's "waves" coming. The problem, of course, is at the upper end of the minors it's more of a ripple. With Dempster gone and Garza probably going, it really is kind of ugly. We'll probably have to go FA in the short term (though Paniagua and Vizcaino could develop very quickly) -- just hope the FA pitchers will come here after we signed and traded Paul Maholm.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The success of Vizcaino would buy some time, sort of create that initial wave. A trade of Garza could potentially help as well.

    Paniagua has been inconsistent in instructs, which tells me he's probably working on things -- probably his change-up, since he could probably eat up that competition with just his FB and slider.

    I'm intrigued that Dallas Beeler is down there. He's one of those overslot guys the Cubs were high on and he's still young. Maybe the Cubs spotted something. He's been pitching well down there. If he takes a step forward, he could help soon.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, How big of a hit would it be if Vizcaino just could not handle starting? He could be a #2 potentially if his body allows it, right?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    It'd be a big disappointment. He's our Andrew Cashner now. Top of the line stuff but questions on whether he can stay healthy.

    The Cubs have a lot of good bullpen arms, they need starters. On the bright side, he'd have the best shot of any of them at closing because of his superior command.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's got to be good news since, if the Cubs are teaching him a change, they're interested in him as a starter.

    It was tough to get a read on him this year, since he was blowing away guys that just have no business facing him. I am REALLY interested to see what happens to him in Tennessee next summer.

    Related aside: Tennessee with Szczur, Torreyes, Villaneuva, Baez, Paniagua and even -- possibly -- Johnson could be a very good second half team next year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Beeler could still turn out to be better than people realize. He essentially skipped a level (the FSL). A lot of guys who skip levels when they aren't ready see sharp dips in their K rates (like Beeler in AA this year), but it eventually evens out if they get a chance to catch up with their leagues. Beeler was a lot better in the second half, and will probably get a chance to repeat AA, and will probably do very well.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I was thinking about that with free agents pitchers - would they want to come to the Cubs knowing they might be traded. I can see the uncertainty of that being a turnoff for some players, but I can also see that as a selling point for a player looking for a ring. Come to the Cubs - pitch well, and you'll be playing for a contender. Kind of a carpool lane to the playoffs.

  • Looking at that delivery makes my arm hurt. But I'm most looking foward to seeing how blackburn, johnson and underwood improve for next year. I have faith that the new front office see the talent that maples have and try there hardest to get him to change is delivery. Maples has to much raw talent to not try and fix is problems.

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    In reply to seankl:

    It's kind of nice to have faith in the Cubs organization to handle these things, isn't it?

  • I think Ricketts should get more credit than he has for all the over-slot signings of this 2011 draft. They knew they were thin, and the new CBA was coming. They got as much talent into the system as they could as quickly as they could before the restrictions of the new CBA kicked in.....

  • I noticed two flaws
    1. His left foot lands too far to the right resulting in his body having to pull across to deliver the ball. This explains the high ratio of walks to strikeout. If he moves where he plants about 8-10 inches to the right, it will create a more accurate delivery as long as he can replicate that delivery. Also it will save his shoulder and allow him to follow through, also helping his accuracy.
    2. His arm is inverted (M shape) when his plant foot lands creating more stress on his elbow. Hi arm needs to be in a W shape.

  • John, I see the Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Dennis Lewallyn resigned to go to the Atlanta club. Is this the result of a lack of progress of many of our prospects? I'm guessing it may have been initiated by Hyde.

    Any guesses in we have a likely replacement in our organization?

  • I always though that Baez was the highest profile signee from the 2011 draft. But Maples, Vogelbach, Zych, DeVoss and Scott were all important signings, as well.

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