Over the offseason of 2018-19, I was mildly restrained on Brailyn Marquez. While he had two relatively successful starts for South Bend in 2018, something about small-sample size had me a bit hesitant in over-promising on the 6-4 lefty from Santo Domingo. His performances recently, both in the Midwest and Carolina Leagues, are making a Marquez believer out of me.
Three of Marquez’ first six 2019 starts saw him allow no runs, though they were admittedly pitch-limited. His next nine saw him give up at least one run. In mid-July, he seemed a pitcher that was pitching better than his numbers indicated. Some teams were able to wait out any wildness he was displaying. Against the lower-rung teams, he was largely reliable for five or six innings. Starting with his July 25th outing, he clicked it into a different gear.
His last two starts in the Midwest League saw him surrender a hit and a walk, combined, over twelve innings. He fanned 22, and allowed no runs. A call-up to Myrtle Beach was justified. After his arrival in Advanced-A, his every outing had become a high priority for me. Instead of getting into a jam early with walks and pitch-count concerns, he tested hitters with a heavy dose of 99-101, early and often. His Carolina League numbers were 26⅓ innings over five starts, allowing 21 hits and seven walks compared to 26 strikeouts. While tossing triple-digits.
Marquez not only has velocity from the left side, he tends toward ground balls over fly balls. He was touched for four homers in South Bend over close to eighty innings, and allowed one in the Carolina League. Whatever you wish to say about Team Theo and developing pitching may be accurate, but 29 other organizations would dig having Marquez.
With most prospects, the calculus is a bit basic. For instance, Miguel Amaya finished in Myrtle Beach with a full season. Move him up. Brennen Davis was better than the Midwest League. Move him up. With Marquez, two valid questions linger. Should he start in Myrtle Beach? Or is he ready for Double-A Tennessee? The default is to move him up. However, for the amount of excrement being heaped on the pipeline's pitching, the Smokies might have six or seven viable rotation options. Keegan Thompson. Javier Assad. It's not a certainty Kodak will have an immediate vacancy.
Secondly, some might prefer Marquez as Josh Hader 2.0, minus the mullet and questionable.... errrr.... social takes. I prefer Marquez going every fifth or sixth day, but an argument can be made.
Lastly, the question is going to be when he will be ready. I don't like the question, but it remains. If Marquez is better than the Southern League, he'll get called up to Iowa after the All-Star break. Like with Kris Bryant. And anyone on a similar flight plan. You like your comments to get four thumbs up, so it turns blue. Players like to get to play in All Star games.
Beyond Iowa, you'll know. To give you an ETA is assuming I know how well he'll do. I don't even align MiLB rotations in January anymore, because the two biggest deciding factors (health and performance in Mesa) are still months away.
Let's assume you are interested in Marquez. Commit yourself to listening to one of his minor league starts. One game. As long as he remains in. You can even do something else when the Cubs affiliate is hitting. Who the starting pitchers will be for the affiliates is rather easy to figure out. It's a five or six arm rotation. As with MLB, the expected starters are usually known two or three days out.
If you choose a Tennessee game, you're already familiar with announcer Mick Gillispie. Amaya will probably be the catcher. Have a pencil and paper to jot down notes on unfamiliar names on both sides. Be forewarned, though. Listening for education purposes is different from listening only based on laundry. The mindset was something I took to quicker than I did to Marquez, who ought to be a fun follow in 2020.