With a lefty reliever an obvious need for the Cubs, it’s been reasonable to wonder whether the team could get some surprising impact internally from a pitching prospect like Brailyn Marquez or Burl Carraway.
The two are on the 60-man roster in South Bend, which makes them eligible play this year. Each has the potential for dominating big league stuff immediately, and when you’re talking only about a limited push down the stretch, it might not be too much to expect a youngster to be able to come up and succeed for a bit. Oh, and they don’t cost anything in trade or significant salary increase.
Buuuuuut, the early word is that it isn’t going to happen for those two.
From Patrick Mooney: “The Cubs do not view Brailyn Marquez and Burl Carraway as realistic options to help the major-league team this season. Marquez is 21 years old and has never pitched above the A-ball level. Carraway is 21 years old and threw 51 1/3 innings across three seasons at Dallas Baptist University before getting drafted two months ago. The Cubs have been patient with those talented lefties at the South Bend training site, focusing on player development and their long-term growth as pitchers instead of letting them loose.”
You can tell that Mooney isn’t just speculating there, so this is a message the Cubs are comfortable putting out. And since it doesn’t get them any extra leverage in the trade market (you’d be better off saying you DO view these guys as ready), it’s fair to presume this is just an honest evaluation of what the Cubs prefer to do with these arms.
For Carraway, it really shouldn’t be shocking. The 21-year-old lefty has so little pitching experience even at the college level, that having him debut in the big leagues the same year he was drafted is a pretty big ask. Moreover, you’ve got the 40-man issue – if you add him now, you have to carry him on the 40-man all offseason, even if you’re not sure he’s a lock to be in the pen next year. The stuff is tantalizing, and Carraway has the potential to be a dominant lefty reliever very soon. But I can’t say it’s all that unreasonable that the Cubs would rather take things slow this year.
As for Marquez, you can toss out the 40-man question, because he’s gotta be added after this season anyway to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The question of readiness, though, is still a fair one. Although Marquez broke out last year, he still hasn’t pitched above High-A (and just 26.1 innings there). Moreover, he’s been brought along as a starting pitcher, so you would be asking him to shift roles at the big league level, in a weird year with no minor league games to ramp up that experience. Guys do it, and maybe Marquez could pull it off without an issue. But I understand there being some caution when you’re talking about one of the few pitching prospects you’ve had in literal decades who has front-of-the-rotation potential.
That is all to say, when it comes to these guys, while succeeding in 2020 at the big league level is the highest priority for the Cubs, there is a balancing act to consider when it comes to young, very-high-upside talent. Future success matters, too.
None of this is to say it’s absolutely, positively impossible that Carraway or Marquez could debut this year. They’re on the 60-man, after all, so it is possible. It’s just clear that it’s highly unlikely, and the Cubs won’t be approaching the Trade Deadline as if they have these two waiting in the wings.