Offseason Prospect Overview: Brailyn Marquez

Brailyn Marquez (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Brailyn Marquez (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Season Review

brailynmarquezThere wasn't a ton of great first half news when it came to the Cubs top pitching prospects last season. Adbert Alzolay got hurt late in spring training, missed the first month in Iowa, then was shut down for the year after just eight starts. Jose Albertos couldn't throw strikes in South Bend before returning to Mesa. The Cubs pair of 2017 1st round picks got off to slow starts. Justin Steele was still rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery.

The second half offered glimpses of hope. Steele returned as stronger than ever. We learned that the lost seasons for Alzolay and Albertos would not end in surgery of any kind. Alex Lange got on track. Eighteen year old Yovanny Cruz emerged in the AZL. But the best news was the breakout of 19-year old Brailyn Marquez.

Marquez was signed for one of the highest bonuses for a left-handed pitcher in the entire 2015 IFA class based on his projectable 6'4" frame and ability to spin a curve ball. He became an immediate success in the DSL back in 2016 before struggling a little in his first taste stateside in 2017. He continued to intrigue however as he began to flash low-to-mid-90s velocity.

Once the 2018 short season campaign began, Marquez came out firing with Eugene. He had added some mass to his previously lanky body and his fastball no longer just flashed, it exploded. By the end of the year Marquez was touching the upper-90s as he joined the ranks of the hardest throwing teenagers in the Minors. Marquez is more than just a thrower, though. He already shows solid, if occasionally inconsistent control, and his secondaries are showing progress as well.

Positives

I already touched on his fastball. It is a rare thing to see a lefty throwing so hard at so young an age. It is also important to note that Marquez may not be done growing. His lower body has filled out faster than his upper body, and there is still room for him to add size and strength to his frame. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Marquez eventually sits at 95 or higher as a starter and touches triple digits. They key to it all though is how easy he brings the heat. His delivery is low effort and he shows signs of not just control, but future command of the pitch, which could make it deadly.

His changeup is little used at this point, but he seemed to gain confidence in it as the season progressed. And for good reason. The pitch showed signs that it could be a future weapon for Marquez. If he can back his potentially plus-plus fastball with a potentially above-average-to-plus changeup the Cubs could end up with a special arm.

Negatives

I'm not sure it is a negative at this point, but his breaking ball did not make a positive impression on me. Now, to be fair, the camera angles in Eugene do not give a great angle for any viewing the break for any left-handed breaking balls, but that is not the only way one can judge a pitch. Marquez did not generate as many awkward swings from hitters when using his slider. For a pitcher with a big fastball who relied on it heavily, I would expect to see hitters flailing more than occasional when he went to his primary offspeed pitch. The silver lining is the slider appears to be new to his arsenal, as in previous season his breaking ball seemed to be more of curveball, so I hope to see progress in the coming years.

Summation

The development of his secondaries could decide his ultimate role. Even if he just ends up as a lefty with the ability to throw strikes with upper-90s heat, he'll have use as a late inning bullpen arm. If the changeup and/or slider become reliable options to pair with his fastball, Marquez is a good bet to become a MOR starter. If one, or both, become a plus offering... at his size, and with the positive signs we've seen from his ability to locate... Marquez could become the long sought TOR starter. We are likely still a couple of years away from getting a better sense though.

2019 Outlook

Marquez made a pair starts with South Bend to close out the 2018 season. He figures to open there in 2019 as the Cubs front office has stated this offseason that they have been a bit too cautious in their approach with their top arms in previous seasons. I still wouldn't expect them to push Marquez beyond Myrtle Beach this season, even if he dominates. I just want to see him remain healthy, show he is capable of maintaining his control and velocity over the course of a full season, and hopefully show progress with his two offspeed pitches.

Comments

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  • Good article Michael. I like your outlook this year for him. He’s only 20, so Use this year to perfect/improve his change & power slider at levels like SB then maybe unleash him at MB mid or late season once that’s done.

    McCleod mentioned him this morning as a kid to be excited about w/Amaya & Hoerner.

    He also mentioned Hatch & Mekkes as 2 more pitchers who may take steps forward this year.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I agree with Hoyer on all four of those players.

  • FYI, Jed’s on am 1000 now.

  • Chris Capuano is talking analytics & pitching on the score.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    He praised guys like Kyle Booty & his driveline sports & other performance training in trying to improve not just results but to understand the mechanics of the movements to strengthen them & hopefully to better help injury prevention.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Cubs signed RHRP Garrett Kelly from Driveline in 2018. They've added LHRP Luke Hagerty and RHRP Robert Robbins this offseason.

  • Yeah, I saw the Haggerty & Robbins signings. Vaguely remember the Kelly one. Didn’t know he was a Driveline product. Stat wise he looked like he did well last year. Maybe his performance lead to this year’s signings.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Well, other than his walks per 9... Maybe they think they can fix that.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    He has nice movement on a 94-95 mph fastball and a decent breaking ball. Control was an issue. He is bullpen arm to keep an eye on this year. He could flame out quick if he continues to throw strikes, but if he shows progress he could move quick.

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    He seems to be the only true TOR pitcher in the system--that's assuming that his secondaries improve. Doing well this year opens up him to push for the majors in 2020 I would think.
    Could someone explain why some pitchers can throw 95+ and others can't? It's not size--I weigh more than Chris Sale, and we have pitchers in our system that are 6'5" and barely break 91 or 92.
    Thanks for the recap, not just today but all of them Michael.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Some of it is genetics. Just as some people are naturally faster at running than others, some people can move their arm faster than others. Mechanics can then take that a step further. Some people a flexible and fluid enough to properly train their bodies to move in the proper succession to maximize the energy the body can generate, others can't, and must rely more on arm speed and/or help from only some parts of the body. Google "pitching kinetic chain"

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I have a son who pitched from about 12 years old through high school. I did a lot of research in trying to find a pitching delivery that not only optimized speed / control but would also protect his arm. He was moderately successful in his pitching career (he had a wicked slider and screwball). He had size, worked hard, his delivery was close to where we wanted it, but the lack of fast twitch muscle fibers was his Achilles heel. I could belabor the point, but IMO, the three qualities that will determine a pitcher's ultimate fastball speed are:
    1. Genetics / fast twitch muscle fiber.
    2. Mechanics.
    3. Hard work.

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    In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    Thanks for the answer.

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    In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    It makes one wonder if stem cells could be used to increase fast twitch muscle fiber in the triceps.

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    You know the technology is there to create a bionic man. Though it would probably cost about 6 million.

  • In reply to John57:

    *Rim shot*. Hey, he landed Farrah Fawcett... :I)

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    In reply to John57:

    Actually a good deal more than $6M. Remember, that was in 1970's dollars.

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    In reply to John57:

    Yeah, but all he can throw is a fast ball and his control is not that pin point. No breaking ball either.

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    I wouldn't be surprised if something similar has been experimented with, although maybe not in a sports area. It might be another discussion for another day, but I could foresee an ethics debate at some point - similar to the PED issue.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I agree with you that it has probably already been tried. If the stem cells were taken from the patient via the adult stem cell procedure, ethical issues are minimal.

    I also recall reading that during the wild PED days, there was an increase in soft tissue injuries. This was due to the muscle becoming stronger, but the corresponding ligaments and tendons stayed the same. The tendons and ligaments became the weak link in the kinetic chain and broke down. Not sure if there is proven evidence of this but it makes sense.

  • In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    My comment was more directed at the treatment itself rather than how stem cells were obtained. Once we figure out how to make an athlete "better" through chemical, surgical or other "medical" means, there must surely be a discussion about what should be allowed. If John57's "Bionic Man" was allowed to pitch, the only batter that could hit his 244 mph fastball would be the Bionic Woman!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I would not want to be the catcher who had to catch 244 mph fastballs.

  • In reply to John57:

    Well, if YOU had a bionic arm....

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Something along those lines was alleged to have been done with Bartolo Colon c2010. He got some of his own fat and marrow stem cells injected into his ailing shoulder and elbow. Might have just been a placebo effect and in his head - but that dude pitched last year, and has had a few solid seasons since 2011. Looked like his career was over in 2010.

    Might be something to it?

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    Hmmmm.....
    Not sure. I know doctors are using adult stem cells for healing of tissue but don't know if increased fast twitch muscle fiber could be attained. Very interesting.

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    The Cubs just announced they have signed Brad Brach to a 1 year contract. He's 32 (33 in April) and it appears that he throws in the
    mid-90's. Finally a power reliever. We certainly have a lot of relievers to choose from now.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Yeah, he finally was able to get in his physical, which he passed. It was just a formality as they actually agreed to the deal a couple weeks ago.

  • Mike, what does his changeup top out at? If he can throw hisFB at 95ish and have a change at 85, that would be pretty nasty.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I am a big believer in changing speeds. If done effectively (and with same arm-speed) it can be a devastating combo.

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