Dillon Maples probably won’t figure into the Cubs’ bullpen mix this October, but if he keeps trending the way he is, he might feature at the back of the bullpen next October.
The 25-year-old righty broke out this year in a big way, risking from High-A to the big leagues in the span of a season thanks to improved command in the bullpen, an absurd fastball, and a silly breaking ball that can already make big league hitters look as foolish as the Rays did last night in Maples’ inning of work:
Dillon Maples strikes out the side in the 7th. pic.twitter.com/M426ztS1DS
— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) September 21, 2017
That last one looked like a dang frisbee.
In the three strikeout inning, Maples touched 97.6 with his fastball, and 90.0 with his slider, per Brooks. Moreover, that slider has so much lateral movement at such a velocity that Brooks actually classified it as a cutter. (The next slutter?)
If Maples can carry forward his progress into 2018, he’ll head into Spring Training as a presumptive member of the bullpen, because he’s simply too talented not to get in there. Given his tough road, though, and history of significant command troubles (and short track record of elite level success), I don’t think we can yet presume he’ll definitely be a contributor in the pen next year. But it’s going to be a very fun story to follow in Spring Training, and then on into the season.
In terms of pure stuff and talent, Maples is right up there with Carl Edwards Jr. in terms of young pitching prospects who excited the hell out of me when they came up to the big league bullpen. He can be that good.