Hawks pitcher takes a step back to move forward

clangrill@idahostatesman.comAugust 15, 2013 

— Dillon Maples has experienced his share of heartbreak since being selected by the Cubs in the 14th round of the 2011 draft.

Maples has suffered an arm injury and lost a year of his young pro career. He battled to get himself back on the mound - and then nothing went right.

The right-hander began this season with Low-A Kane County, where he struggled mightily: 0-2 record, 8.31 ERA with 31 walks in 34 innings.

And then the 21-year-old from North Carolina found his happy place as a baseball player: Boise, as a member of the Hawks.

"I came here, and I knew I had to get things back on track," said Maples, who is scheduled to start Thursday against Eugene.

Enter pitching coach David Rosario.

"We started doing some mechanical drills with him, and we worked on his mental approach," Rosario said.

The work has paid off.

Maples (4-0) has earned wins the past four times he's taken the mound. He has a 1.17 ERA and has walked seven batters in 23 innings in Boise.

"I feel like it was one of those cases where we went backwards to come forward," Rosario said. "He's proving to himself that he's capable of competing and winning ballgames. And if he can do that at this level, then I feel like we've accomplished our goal here."

Said Maples: "It was important for me to get my confidence back, and I have gotten it back. … I came here and just let it all hang out. I'm just letting my stuff work for me."

Manager Gary Van Tol is a believer.

"He has a gift," he said. "There's guys who pitch a long, long time and do everything they can to get the ball to move. This guy does it naturally. He has the stuff, no doubt."

And Rosario thinks that stuff can get much better.

"His fastball right now is 92 to 95 (mph), and I've always thought he could throw up to 100," Rosario said. "This is a kid who is using 80 percent of his talent right now."

And now, instead of taking a step backward, Rosario thinks Maples is ready to take a few steps forward.

"We have 17 pitchers, and maybe three of them will pitch in the big leagues," Rosario said. "Well, he's one of those guys that should pitch in the big leagues, if he makes the best of his talent. Hopefully, we've helped him make those first couple of steps in the right direction."

Hawks top Emeralds

Boise scored a season-high in runs in a 13-2 win over Eugene at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday. The Hawks belted 15 hits for the third straight game. Kevin Encarnacion had a homer, triple, four RBIs and two runs scored. David Bote added a home run and three RBIs as Boise (33-25 overall, 12-8 second half) won for the seventh time in eight games.

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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