Greg Maddux sets his sights lower
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com August 12, 2011 11:00PM
Former Braves manager Bobby Cox is honored by the team with a victory lap around the stadium during his jersey-retirement ceremony. | Dave Tulis~AP
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:25AM
ATLANTA — Greg Maddux, a special assistant to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, was in Atlanta on Friday to honor his former manager Bobby Cox at a luncheon and a pregame ceremony.
Maddux wasn’t as laudatory with the upper-level prospects in the Cubs’ system he’s charged with evaluating.
‘‘I like some of the progress some of the younger players have made. You can see a difference, and that’s good,’’ said Maddux, who’s in his second year in his role with the Cubs. ‘‘Hopefully, they keep getting better.’’
Anybody in the system who can fix what’s broken with the Cubs?
‘‘A couple of good relievers maybe that can help out,’’ he said. ‘‘You never know what’s going to happen until guys get out there and do it. The potential’s there.’’
The Cubs dealt three of their upper-level prospects in the Matt Garza trade in January and have seen some of their top remaining prospects struggle this year, including top pitching prospect Trey McNutt and promising Class AAA pitcher Casey Coleman.
Their top hitting prospect, Brett Jackson, was recently promoted to Class AAA, where he has hit well, but might not get a big-league call-up in September because of 40-man roster considerations (his service-time level doesn’t require him to be protected from Rule 5 exposure in the winter unless he’s added to the roster).
Several weeks after a general agreement was reportedly in place, the Cubs signed Wayne Gretzky’s son Trevor on Friday to a deal that includes a $375,000 signing bonus.
The signing comes barely three days before Monday’s signing deadline. The Cubs still are negotiating with their top two picks but are optimistic they’ll get deals done with No. 9 overall selection Javier Baez (prep shortstop from Jacksonville, Fla.) and Prince Fielder-like second-rounder Daniel Vogelbach (a prep first baseman from Fort Myers, Fla.).
Gretzky, a 6-4, 190-pound high school first baseman and outfielder, was selected in the seventh round. The Cubs aren’t projecting a potential big-league position yet for the 18-year-old who’s expected to report to Mesa, Ariz., early in the week.
Hendry handled much of the direct talks with the family.
‘‘We’re very excited. Our scouts really like his offensive potential,’’ Cubs assistant GM Randy Bush said.
Another 2011 pick, 10th-rounder Dan Lockhart, a prep shortstop, worked out with the Cubs in Atlanta on Friday and was expected to sign over the weekend. His father, former big-league infielder Keith Lockhart, is a scout for the Cubs.
Bush on whether he anticipates the team making a waiver-wire trade before the end-of-the-month deadline: ‘‘Things could happen. You’re always staying abreast of the market and what other teams’ needs are. We’re in communication.’’
◆ Atlanta’s Dan Uggla wasted little time extending the second-longest hitting streak in Braves history, driving the second pitch he saw from Carlos Zambrano over the center-field wall in the second inning. His 32-gamer is the longest in the majors this year and five short of Tommy Holmes’ 1945 Braves record.