Top Cubs pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez has been conspicuously absent from updates about Cubs camp, which is not to say there was concern – the minor league season doesn’t start for two months yet – but it was odd not to have seen him in pictures or clips or game action.
Turns out there’s a reason. Marquez was delayed at arrival, and is still just starting to build up his arm (Cubs.com):
Cubs top prospect left-hander Brailyn Marquez — ranked No. 60 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list — is playing catch and building up arm strength, according to pitching coach Tommy Hottovy. Marquez was delayed at the start of camp due to the COVID-19 intake process.
“He’s always a guy that we’ve kind of taken a slow and deliberate approach with,” Hottovy said. “And then coming in with all the COVID protocols and all the stuff he had to deal with, it was going to take some time to ramp him back up. He put in a lot of good work in the offseason, fortunately.”
Like I said at the top, you can’t be concerned right now, given that Marquez wouldn’t be pitching in game action at Double-A or Triple-A for two more months anyway. He might be “behind” the other pitchers on the 40-man roster, but he’s certainly not “behind” the minor league guys who can’t even come to Spring Training until the big league crew departs.
Marquez was never a real threat to make the Opening Day roster, and despite his very brief cup of coffee last year, it’s not a lock that he’ll see any big league time this season. The Cubs want to really try to max out Marquez’s delivery, as he gives them the rare chance at developing a true ace. And, since he hasn’t otherwise pitched above High-A, is still working on his pitch development, and has the kind of body and delivery that rarely sticks as a starter, there’s no good reason to rush things.
I’m just hoping that Marquez can have a normal, full, minor league season’s worth of starts at Double-A and/or Triple-A. If he winds up getting some big league time because he’s just so dang sharp that the Cubs want to use some of his 2021 innings at the big league level? Well that’d just be gravy. Mostly, though – realistically – I just want to see him get back into normal action after the funky 2020 season.