By Todd Johnson
Those are some pretty high fastball speeds for a 19-year-old pitcher who disappears when he turns sideways. Right now, Brailyn Marquez can get his FB up in the mid to upper 90s and sustain it. To go with it, he also throws a curve in the low to mid 80s. That’s impressive for age! He is one of the most magnetic pitchers to watch in the lower part of the Cubs’ system, but Marquez will need a lot more as he matures to get to Chicago.
6’4”, 185 lbs.
Current Affiliate: Eugene Emeralds
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Signed as an IFA in 2015
Marquez began his career in the Dominican Summer League where he made 12 starts. He raised a lot of eyebrows with his performance. He struck out 48 batters in 54.2 IP. His ERA was 1.48 that summer as he began to learn how to pitch. In 2017, Marquez spent the summer in Mesa playing in the Arizona Rookie League. It was quite an adjustment. He threw in 11 games with 9 of them the starting variety. The results were not even close to 2016. At Mesa, his ERA ballooned to 5.52 despite striking out 52 in 44 IP. An increased WHIP of 1.41 was not sustainable. He sat 93-95 most days but struggled keeping the ball down and getting his curve in for strikes.
The first thing you notice different about Marquez this year is the bump in velocity and increased control. While the FB speeds are eye-catching, they are not the end all of pitching. Then again, they do give Marquez a very nice foundation to build on. So far he’s made three starts this season. Embedded in his stats are some eye-popping numbers.
The first thing that gets your attention is the ERA at 2.08. Then there are the 20 Ks and a WHIP of 1. All of those are very good signs. Then you look at the number of pitches per start of 65, 72, and 77. Then again, in his first start, Marquez only lasted 3.2 innings and 3.1 in his second. His third start was very impressive as he lasted 6 innings and whiffed 8 that game. He looked pretty gassed at the longest game of his career.
There are 3 things Marquez needs to work on in the near future.
1. Efficiency – He has to work shorter counts. He’s only pitched in the sixth inning three times in his three year career and that includes his last start. It’s not that he’s getting beat up, he’s just working deep counts. Some might call it nibbling, but it’s not. He just needs to command his arsenal better for strikes instead of balls. He might be what is called “effectively wild” at 95 mph.
2. A Third Pitch – He should be just fine this year with his fastball-curve combo. When he starts to have the control and command of those two, he should begin developing a third one because Midwest Leaguers will just sit on one of them and he will get eaten alive as a two-pitch starter in the Carolina League.
3. Aggressiveness – In watching him pitch three times, there is no doubt Marquez is a head-turning pitcher. However, when he is not commanding his FB/Curve combo, he’s tough to watch as he struggles to find the zone. When he gets the ball and goes right after hitters, like he did in his last start, he becomes a very promising young pitcher, very promising indeed.
For Now Though…
He should be very exciting to follow this summer when the Emeralds are at home, as only one other team has TV in the league. He is going to fill out eventually and gain some weight and his FB could tick up even more. That might be hard to imagine. But he’s going to need more than just that. For now, though, let’s just take it one start at a time and try not to get dazzled by the radar gun and see how he does in the three aforementioned areas.