- Full name Dillon Sean Maples
- Born 05/09/1992 in Sanford, NC
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 230 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Pinecrest
- Debut 09/03/2017
Drafted in the 14th round (429th overall) by the Chicago Cubs in 2011 (signed for $2,500,000).
View Draft ReportMaples has had the benefit of professional insight. His father, Tim, was a second-round pick of the Orioles in 1979, and his pitching coach at Pinecrest is James Baldwin, the former White Sox all-star. Scouts got a good look at Maples during his junior season when they went to see Baldwin's son, outfielder James Baldwin III, who signed with the Dodgers as a fourth-rounder. Maples' best assets are athleticism and arm strength. Also a standout kicker on the football team, he stands at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds with a strong lower half. His fastball sits 91-94 mph and has touched the mid-90s throughout the season. His curveball is an above-average pitch that has left his competition in the state overmatched. He lacks command of his fastball and actually does a better job of spotting his curveball. He has shown a changeup in warm-ups but doesn't need it in games, so the pitch will need development. Maples has a short arm action and questionable mechanics that lead to his below-average command. Scouts say his athleticism will allow him to make the necessary adjustments. He is committed to North Carolina, where he would play baseball and have a chance to walk on as a kicker for the football team.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Track Record: In the last draft before the pool era, Maples got $2.5 million to sign with the Cubs even though he was the 429th overall pick. Injuries marred the early stages of his career, but Maples was healthy for all of 2017 and rocketed through three levels of the minor leagues before reaching Chicago.
Scouting Report: Maples is among the most slider-heavy pitchers. When he was in the big leagues, he threw the pitch 69 percent of the time, nearly three times more often than he threw his four-seam fastball. That's particularly notable, considering his fastball sits in the upper 90s and touched 100 in 2018. He mixes in a curveball, but doesn't throw a changeup. Now he needs to figure out command because even with two pitches that grade as 70 or better on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, Maples was still hit hard in the big leagues. Maples near bottom-of-the-scale control is his biggest hurdle. He simply doesn't throw enough strikes--he failed to throw strikes on 60 percent of his pitches in any month last season.
The Future: Maples will get a long look in spring training and should compete for a spot in Chicago's bullpen on Opening Day. If not, it's back to Triple-A Iowa for more seasoning.
The 2011 draft was the last before the capped-draft era began, and Maples got $2.5 million, the 17th-highest in that entire draft even though he was the 429th pick. The only high school righthanders to get more were Archie Bradley, Dylan Bundy and Joe Ross, all of whom had broken through to the major leagues by 2017. Maples entered the 2017 season ranked outside the Top 30, seemingly out of the Cubs' plans and with just 182.1 innings as a pro. However, he stayed free of the injuries that had interrupted past seasons--such as a UCL injury in his elbow, or the rib and oblique injuries of previous years--and added a cutter in offseason workouts. The cutter, a low-90s pitch that has enough break to pass for a slider, gave him a pitch he could throw for strikes consistently; an adjustment to make his delivery more compact improved his control. Suddenly, Maples had confidence to go with his power curveball, thrown in the mid-80s, and hitters couldn't sit on his mid-90s fastball. It's touching 100 mph now, and while he wasn't fine with it in the big leagues, Maples made it there, finally, in 2017. Maples has below-average control; he walked 5.3 per nine innings even in his breakout season. But he also struck out more than 14 per nine and has the stuff to be a factor in the Cubs' bullpen in 2018.
The Cubs invested $2.5 million to lure Maples away from North Carolina, where he was expected to play football (as a placekicker) and baseball. He signed just before the mid-August deadline in 2011 and didn't make his pro debut until 2012. He made his full-season debut in 2013 at low Class A Kane County but had a disastrous stint, showing no ability to throw consistent strikes. His confidence flagging, Maples reported to short-season Boise for the second half and turned his season around with the help of pitching coach David Rosario, improving his delivery, particularly its tempo, and his consistency. While he still has a ways to go commanding his stuff, Maples threw two plus pitches while with the Hawks. His fastball reaches 97 mph and sits 92-95, and he has shown life down with his two-seamer and up in the zone with his four-seamer. Maples adds an upper-70s curveball, which has downer action and helps him change hitters' eye levels. The Cubs haven't done much with Maples' changeup yet, focusing on fastball command. Adding one will be an integral part of his spring to-do list as he works to earn a return trip to Kane County in 2014.
Teams considered Maples virtually unsignable in 2011 because he was strongly committed to North Carolina, where he would have played baseball and kicked for the football team. The Cubs fell in love with his stuff, took him in the 14th round and got him away from the Tar Heels for $2.5 millionÃ³a maneuver that would have cost them two future first-round picks under new draft rules that went into effect in 2012. They have yet to see what they got with that investment because he has pitched just 10 pro innings. He signed too late to debut in 2011, then tweaked his elbow in spring training and didn't get on the mound again until June. Maples' main weapons are a heavy 91-96 mph fastball and a hard curveball. His non-athletic delivery and short arm action turn off a lot of scouts and could lead to health and control problems. Chicago won't give him a complete makeover but wants to simplify his mechanics to make it easier for him to throw strikes. He'll need to add a changeup as well. Maples will turn 21 early in the 2013 season, so the Cubs would like to get him to low Class A and, they hope, on the road to becoming a No. 2 starter.
One of the most talented and most unsignable high school pitchers in the 2011 draft, Maples slid to the 14th round. He seemed likely to attend North Carolina, where he would have played baseball and kicked for the football team, before Chicago stepped in with $2.5 million at the signing deadline. His father Tim was a 1979 second-round pick who reached Double-A in the Orioles system. Maples has a pair of plus pitches in his heavy 92-96 mph fastball and hard curveball. There's little question about the quality of his arm, though scouts worry about his mechanics. Though he's athletic, he has a non-athletic delivery with a short arm action and a stiff, upright finish. That could lead to problems with his command--he locates his curve better than his fastball--and stress on his shoulder. The Cubs don't have any significant concerns and won't make any major adjustments. They'll have him focus on improving his fastball location and developing a changeup. Maples has enough weapons to succeed in low Class A in his pro debut in 2012. As with Trey McNutt, his changeup and command will determine whether he reaches his ceiling as a No. 2 starter or becomes a late-inning reliever.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Cubs have taken it slow with Maples, streamlining his mechanics since signing him for $2.5 million to lure him away from a North Carolina football-baseball scholarship. He tweaked his elbow in 2012 and threw just 10 innings. While the velocity on Maples? fastball sits in the low 90s and peaks at 95 mph, what sets it apart is its natural movement. His two-seamer sinks, and he can cut his four-seamer as well. He also has a plus breaking ball that he?s working on commanding, though there hasn?t been much tinkering with his changeup yet. He struggled in the low Class A Midwest League this spring (8.31 ERA with 31 walks and 33 hits allowed in 35 innings) but found his footing with Boise, inducing plenty of groundballs. ?He has command in and out with two plus pitches,? Vancouver?s McCullough said. ?I know he struggled in the Midwest League this year, but his stuff is more than good enough to pitch in that league and certainly higher.?
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the Chicago Cubs in 2019
- Rated Best Slider in the Chicago Cubs in 2018
- Rated Best Fastball in the Chicago Cubs in 2018
Background: One of the most talented and most unsignable high school pitchers in the 2011 draft, Maples slid all the way until the 14th round. He seemed likely to attend North Carolina, where he would have played baseball and kicked for the football team, before Chicago stepped in with $2.5 million at the signing deadline. His father Tim was a 1979 second-round pick who reached Double-A in the Orioles system. Scouting Report: Maples has a pair of plus pitches in his heavy 92-96 mph fastball and hard curveball. There's little question about the quality of his arm, though many scouts worry about his mechanics. Though he's athletic, he has a non-athletic delivery with a short arm action and a stiff, upright finish. That could lead to problems with his command--he locates his curve better than his fastball--and stress on his shoulder. For their part, the Cubs don't have any significant concerns and won't make any major adjustments. They'll have him focus on improving his fastball location and developing a changeup. The Future: Maples has enough weapons to succeed in low Class A when he makes his pro debut in 2012. As with Trey McNutt, his changeup and command will determine whether he reaches his ceiling as a No. 2 starter or becomes a late-inning reliever.