Chicago Cubs: Brailyn Marquez has potential to move up in 2019

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have a farm system on the rise – and it has a lot of prospects outside of the Top 100 who could prove valuable in the coming years.

I won’t lie to you, I had to do a deep Google search on Chicago Cubs hurler Brailyn Marquez since he was a name I was not familiar with. Well, to start he’s a 20-year-old southpaw out of the Dominican Republic. So, the next Pedro Martinez, perhaps? I’m kidding. Martinez was a righty.

After a solid 2018 campaign, Marquez could be a nice up and coming prospect in 2019 and maybe make the top-100 in 2020. Here’s what MLB Pipeline says about him:

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"“The Cubs haven’t had much success developing pitchers, though they do have high hopes for Marquez, whose $600,000 bonus was the highest given to a left-hander during the 2015-16 international amateur signing period. He can run his fastball into the upper 90s, flashes a plus curveball with power and does a good job of throwing strikes.”"

A young left-handed pitcher who can run his fastball to the upper 90s with a power curveball, you say? Well, sign me up. When I think of young pitchers the Cubs have who contain this kind of talent, the first I think of is Dillon Maples. The difference is Maples has plenty of command issues (17.2 percent walk rate).

Maples still has plenty of upside and if he puts together a strong Spring Training, he could make the major league roster in April. His key is command and if he can put that together, he could be a key piece to the Cubs bullpen this season.

That said, the difference in Marquez is he’s being used as a starter and is left-handed while Maples is a right-handed pitcher. If scouts say Marquez has this kind of potential with command of his pitches (7.1 percent walk percentage in 2018 with the Eugene Emeralds), I’ll have some optimism for now. He’s yet to pitch in Double-A so the talent level he’s facing has to be taken with a grain of salt.

We’ll see how he does as he makes his way up the totem pole, but early on, he seems to have some potential, as you would hope considering the $600,000 bonus he received.

Let’s take a look at the numbers. In 2016, Marquez posted a 1.48 ERA, 3.19 FIP and a 58.2 percent ground ball rate in rookie ball. He held opponents to a .221 batting average in 54 2/3 innings pitched, starting a dozen contests.

In 2017, the southpaw struggled, posting a 5.52 ERA across 44 frames. His home run to fly ball ratio skyrocketed from 3.4 percent to 7.1 percent. One positive is he saw his K/9 rise from 7.90 to 10.64.

Last season, he rebounded with the Emeralds, posting a 3.21 ERA in 10 starts. He finished with 52 strikeouts to 14 walks. His 26.4 percent strikeout rate was a career high but his home run to fly ball ratio rose again to 11.9 percent. He made two appearances with the South Bend Cubs where he struck out seven and walked just two batters in his seven innings pitched.

Based off numbers, it seems Marquez is giving up too many fly balls compared to ground balls. After his 58.2 percent ground ball rate in 2016, he’s seen it dip each of the last two seasons. His fly ball percentage has increased each season, including a career-high 55 percent in 2018. Lucky for him in his three seasons of professional baseball, he’s only given up nine home runs.

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With a small sample size, there’s not much else to consider for Marquez at this point. However, it is encouraging to see the Cubs have some potential on the pitching side of things in their farm system. Who knows, if Marquez stands out in 2019, he could be a potential trade chip depending on how the Cubs season pans out.