Cubs prospect Maples ready to get started

CHICAGO -- New Cubs prospect Dillon Maples was taken back at first when he heard the news of Jim Hendry’s firing.

Maples said the former Cubs GM played a key role in getting him to sign with the organization rather than fulfill a football scholarship with North Carolina Tar Heels. But at the end of the day, Maples was confident a deal would have been worked out with or without Hendry.

“Because I’m new and I’m coming in, I had built kind of a relationship with him because my dad was talking a lot to him throughout the draft and all that,” Maples said during his visit to Wrigley Field on Sunday. “So him being let go, I mean, it made me feel a little less comfortable, I’d say, but you’ve got to move forward.”

The immediate future will have Maples in Arizona on Sept. 9 to prepare for the Instructional League. Maples recorded 117 strikeouts and a 0.95 ERA last season at Pinecrest (N.C.) High. He attributed a lot of those strikeouts to his curveball and described himself as a Zack Greinke-type of pitcher.

Maples said he attended summer school in Chapel Hill, where he also went to training camp before making a decision to sign with the Cubs. His commitment to the Tar Heels was a reason that many teams shied away from drafting him in the early rounds. The Cubs got him in the 14th round, but gave him a $2.5 million signing bonus.

“I can always go back and play football if this doesn’t work out,” he said, “but hopefully I won’t have to do that.”