A little cut today at Cubs Spring Training, as outfield prospect Mark Zagunis and relief prospect Dillon Maples were sent to minor league camp.
Zagunis, 25, is one of the Cubs’ primary “next up” outfielders, who has shown he can rake in the upper minors, and whose power/discipline skill set could translate well in the Major Leagues if he can show adequate defense in the corner outfield spots, and if the power plays up just a little bit more than it has in the last couple years. There might not be a starting job for him with the Cubs any time soon, but filling for injuries and/or coming up as depth this and next year? Absolutely in the cards.
Maples, 25, was one of the breakout stories on the farm last year, finally breaking out as a reliever, and skyrocketing from A-ball to the big leagues. The fastball is plus-plus, and the slider is plus-plus. He has the stuff of an elite big league closer. But, like so many dominant arms on the farm around baseball, he’s gotta more consistently keep it in the strike zone, and also periodically spot the stuff for it to really work.
Maples came into the spring with a shot at winning that final bullpen job, but bouts of wildness appear to made the Cubs prefer a step back, and an opportunity for Maples to keep working on that control/command at AAA to start the season. He has almost no upper minors experience, so it’s not as if this is a disappointing outcome, all things considered. There’s plenty of time for Maples to rise up and make an impact in the coming years.
After these moves, plus the release of Justin Grimm, the spring roster stands at 37.