Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez has been getting heat since he blew up at midseason, becoming (quite literally for a stretch) unhittable at Low-A South Bend and then after a promotion to High-A Myrtle Beach.
Recently, Baseball America – which has Marquez as the top prospect in the Cubs’ system – dug into Marquez’s midseason adjustments and breakout, which sets him up for a huge 2020 season. And now MLB Pipeline is getting in on the action, showing big love for the Cubs’ big lefty.
Southpaw central: Our brand-new 2020 Top 10 LHP Prospects list features several leading Rookie of the Year candidates, with a familiar trio at the top: https://t.co/kNRnXDaVKB pic.twitter.com/zpH6XBpBhq
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 15, 2020
Like BA, MLB Pipeline drops an 80 grade on Marquez’s fastball, and even goes a step further (emphasis added): “Marquez’s fastball has gotten better and better since he signed in 2015. He was in the low-90s in 2017 but was sitting 96-98 mph in 2019, and he was only 20. It’s one of the best fastballs from a lefty we’ve seen in quite some time.”
One of the best fastballs from a lefty we’ve seen in quite some time, eh? That’s immediately going to make people think of Josh Hader, who, incidentally, has already been dropped as a possible future comp for Marquez. So that’s fun.
For now, though, Marquez will remain a starting pitcher in the minors, possibly beginning the season at AA Tennessee. Given his lively arm, it’s possible he shows up in the Cubs’ bullpen in the second half if they want to get some value of his bullets, but that would only happen if he was clearly ready and the Cubs were clearly in the race. Marquez is not yet on the 40-man roster and will pitch this season at age 21, though he’ll be Rule 5 eligible after this season, which might make the Cubs slightly more willing to call him up at some point this year.
As for where Marquez might wind up on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 list, given that he’s only 9th on this top lefties list, we could extrapolate he’ll likely be in the back half (the 9th lefty on last year’s list was 74th, for what little that’s worth). With Nico Hoerner a lock to be on the list (he was 47th at the end of the year), and Miguel Amaya very likely as well (90th at the end of last year), the Cubs should have at least three top 100 prospects to MLB Pipeline. And depending on where they land on Brennen Davis, who probably has the largest variance in opinion among pundits, they might have four. Like I’ve said before, I’m buying on the Cubs’ farm system heading into 2020.