The Curious Case of Brailyn Marquez

Feb 25, 2020; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Brailyn Marquez warms up during a spring training camp at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2020; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Brailyn Marquez warms up during a spring training camp at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

In my many years as a Chicago Cubs fan, existing under the mantra of “Wait til next year!” I began to following prospects in the minor leagues. With the major league team often brutal, I followed the farm system. Some made it to the Friendly Confines, many did not. It’s an easy hobby of late: click, click, skim skim.

We’ve seen both success and failure. Theo Epstein drafted bats, bought pitchers, made a few really good trades (Arrieta, Hendricks, Strop, etc.) and won a World Series. I recall it took a LONG time before that era produced 100 home-grown innings pitched. It was then I began to read the name Brailyn Marquez.

Many of us lived through the early 2000s when we thought Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Carlos Zambrano would be our Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz. How’d that work out? Now, as I followed this young man’s development, we have a million-dollar arm with a 100 MPH fastball and — he’s a lefty.

Brailyn Marquez’s Cubs rise reminds one of another name

He first appeared on Prospects1500’s prospect lists at No. 4 (2019), No. 2 (2020), No. 1 (2021) (. He was selected to join the squad in South Bend in 2020 during Covid, and on September 27, 2020, he made his major league debut against the White Sox at Guarantee Rate Field. I made sure to tune in, presuming I was looking at “the closest pitcher they have to being top of the rotation starter,” per ProspectList1500.

Young Marquez’s arm was electric and his control was abysmal. Thirty-three pitches, 16 strikes, but surely by next spring, maybe summer, he’s in the starting rotation, or not. Shoulder trouble, two serious cases of Covid, and he has yet to throw a pitch since. Had I not actually seen him on my television, I would question of his existence, reminding me of a Met’s prospect from the 1980’s.

In April 1985 author (among many roles) George Plimpton described a Mets prospect called Sidd Finch. Hayden (Sidd) Finch was an elusive, eccentric mystic who was timed throwing a baseball 168 miles per hour on a JUGS gun. That my friend is NOT a typo. We learned of his existence in the April 1, 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated.

Kudos to the magazine, and Mr. Plimpton, for pulling the wool over the eyes of astonished readers. Do you need to go back and read the previous paragraph more carefully? The article later became a book.

Plimpton is worth a cursory glance on your screen. This may not lead you to a subscription to The Paris Review. Sports fans, Mr. Plimpton wrote participatory stories about his playing against professionals in baseball, football, golf, hockey, and even boxing. In 1959, he entered the ring in an exhibition bout with former light heavyweight champion Archie Moore. Muhammad Ali famously successfully predicted “Archie Moore will fall in four,” but Moore gave the courageous Plimpton a bloody nose.

I want Brailyn Marquez to succeed. I hope he returns quickly and in good health and has many successful years on the mound at Wrigley Field. Right now, the Cubs are in fourth place, 12.5 games out, and even trail the Pirates.

Next. 5 best Cubs draft picks. dark

Hurry back young Mr. Marquez, and thank you Mr. Plimpton for your humorous and inventive writing. You can even watch him in Good Will Hunting.