Former Cubs pitching prospect Brailyn Márquez finally resumes baseball activity
Before the Chicago Cubs had Caleb Killian, Ben Brown, and Spring Training standout Hayden Wesneski among so many others, they had Brailyn Márquez. A few years back, he was the next great hope for the pitching staff of the future and he flashed heat that the team's other arms simply didn't have at the time. As recently as 2021, he was not only atop 100 prospect by Baseball America's standards, but he was lauded higher than even Brennen Davis.
We all know the story though. Márquez got a cup of coffee in the majors in 2020 but has been extremely limited since then after going through the injury wringer. First, the pandemic meant he had no minor-league game action. Then, 2021 became a lost season when a bad bout of COVID was followed by shoulder issues and myocarditis. 2022 felt like déjà vu when he was once again delayed by COVID and then shoulder fatigue which ultimately led to a surgical debridement procedure, ending his season once again. After so much time off, it was enough that the Cubs non-tendered him altogether.
Credit to the Cubs, however, for not giving up on Márquez. The team brought him back on a new minor league deal with updated terms and, in a bit of a shock, even invited him to camp for Spring Training. He wasn't cleared to start throwing right away, but pictures from photographer Rich Biesterfeld show he recently started doing some light baseball activity again and it just puts a smile on my face to see him getting warmed up after so long.
Márquez begins his come back for the Cubs organization in 2023
Thanks to a much-improved farm system, Márquez isn't relied on to become a big-league contributor like he was before. Moreover, he still has a long way to go before the Cubs would even consider him in the majors and, even if he makes it, it'll likely be in a relief role. 2023 will be a make-or-break year for the lefty as he tries to prove that he can be a similar pitcher to what he used to be even after two years away from in-game action and significant injuries. Still, it's hard not to root for him to carve out a spot among the myriad of pitching options.
If Márquez could recapture that magic, he'd still be a valuable addition to the Cubs in the future. In his last year of minor league play in 2019 between South Bend and Myrtle Beach, he recorded a 3.13 ERA with an impressive 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings and the ability to hit triple digits on the radar gun. Lefty relief options with that potential are exceedingly rare and the Cubs could absolutely use that to pair with Brandon Hughes. Currently, they don't have a pitcher that really fits that exact mold.
After all he's been through, I'm really hoping this marks the beginning of a comeback for Márquez. He's still only 24, so there's still hope he can be a worthwhile piece for the Cubs to keep around.