Next Level: MLB Prospects Abound
The minor league baseball seasons didn’t go exactly as planned for former Pinecrest teammates James Baldwin III of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dillon Maples of the Chicago Cubs. But both remain among their respective parent clubs’ top prospects, according to MLB.com.
Baldwin is the No. 9 prospect of the Dodgers after batting .209 for the Advanced Class A Great Lakes Loons in his third pro season. The center fielder led the team with 53 stolen bases in 61 attempts, and tied for the team lead in triples with eight. He also led the Loons in strikeouts.
“Baldwin simply needs time to develop, and the Dodgers are confident things will start clicking for him as a result,” according to MLB.com.
Maples, No. 12 on the Cub prospect list as a pitcher, arrived in Mesa, Ariz., for his first spring training camp last February. He was unable to pitch in a game until July because of a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right forearm.
Pitching for the Cubs’ rookie league team, his season consisted of 10 innings pitched in six appearances. He finished with a record of 0-1 and an ERA of 4.35.
The pair worked out together at John W. Williams Field recently with Pinecrest coach Jeff Hewitt just before leaving for their fall instructional league assignments in Arizona.
“I’m not going to look at this as a wasted year, although I missed a significant part of the season,” Maples said. “I still learned a lot — going through the rehab and all that mental stuff. It was good that I got in some innings this year.”
As a result of watching himself on film, he also decided to make adjustments to his mechanics.
“I wanted to get back to a more consistent delivery every time, and I’m still working on that and struggling with that. But it’s gotten a lot better.”
One of Maples’ potential assignments for next year is Kane County (Ill.), which is in the same league that Baldwin played in.
“I’m just focused on pitching well,” Maples said. “If you do that it will take care of itself.”
Around major leaguers often in his youth because of his father James Baldwin’s 11-year major league career, Baldwin got tutoring in bunting from former Dodger great Maury Wills (1962 N.L. MVP) during spring training.
“I just look up to him because of the career he had,” he said.
As a practical matter, Baldwin turned singles into doubles with his exceptional speed for a big man (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) and base-stealing ability. He tried different stances in an effort to make better contact at the plate.
“The batting average wasn’t as high this year as it should be, so I tried to steal as much as I could,” he said. “I went back to my old stance. Toward the end of the season I felt more comfortable and got on base a little bit more. I’m looking forward to the season coming up.”
For Baldwin, and another former Pinecrest player, Seth Maness, it was their first taste of a grueling 140-game professional baseball season.
Maness was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 after a standout career as a pitcher at East Carolina. He logged 169 innings for the Cards’ Palm Beach (Fla.) and Springfield (Mo.) clubs this past season.
The right-hander compiled a record of 11-3 for AA Texas League champion Springfield and was named to the league’s postseason all-star team. He put himself in line for a promotion next spring by putting together a record of 14-4 and an ERA of 2.97 at the two stops. He walked only 10 batters all season.
On the college gridiron: Wake Forest tight end Spencer Bishop, a former football teammate of Baldwin and Maples at Pinecrest, caught his first pass as a collegian in the Demon Deacons’ wild 49-37 win over Army on Saturday.
The junior’s grab for a 13-yard gain, and a first down near midfield, came on the drive that put his team ahead for good.
Josh Scales, an All-CIAA defensive back for Fayetteville State last year, once threw passes to Baldwin and Bishop as a quarterback at Pinecrest. In Saturday’s 20-13 Bronco loss to Elizabeth City State, the versatile performer took some snaps on offense and caught a pass for 13 yards in the third quarter.
He also recorded eight total tackles and two pass breakups from his defensive back position. The national Division II leader in interceptions per game a year ago has two picks this season. He is fourth on the team in tackles (23) and first in breakups (eight).
Another former Patriot, Blade Shoop, started at right guard for the Bronco offensive unit.
More like this story