That Talk About Brailyn Marquez Being a “Pitching Weapon” for the Cubs in 2022? It’s Not Just Smoke

November 23. Mark the date. We got our first “best shape of his life” report. Well, not those literal words, but you know the type of report that you usually see in February and March. In this case, boy do I hope it’s true.

After a season lost to COVID and shoulder issues, which came after a season mostly lost to the pandemic, 2022 is going to be a pretty critical year for Cubs pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez. Cubs President Jed Hoyer has already said that Marquez is in position to have a normal spring ramp up and then possibly be deployed as a “pitching weapon” for the big league team at times next year, but obviously so much has to happen between now and then to make it a reality.

Jordan Bastian reports that Marquez is on track to throw off the mound before the end of the year – which would precede a typical Spring Training, so that’s good – and he spoke with Farm Director Matt Dorey who dropped the big praise:

“He’s in such good shape physically right now,” Dorey said. “He just really got after it with his nutrition. It’s unbelievable how good of shape he’s in right now.”

Since the end of last season, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has said there is a chance for Márquez to be a “pitching weapon” as soon as 2022. Dorey seconded that sentiment.

“That’s real. That’s not smoke and mirrors,” Dorey said. “His job is to continue to crush this offseason and take what he’s done to this point and really parlay that into a healthy Major League camp, where there’s, for the first time in a while, a real opportunity for him to come in and earn a job.”

That’s frank right there. I’ll admit, when Hoyer mentioned the “pitching weapon” thing on Marquez in his early-offseason comments, I did think it was just smoke. A guy who hasn’t really pitched above High-A, and who has effectively missed two straight seasons? You just don’t see those guys making the leap to the big leagues and contributing meaningfully too often.

But the description right there is clear as day. It might not be LIKELY that Marquez is a contributor this coming season, but the Cubs clearly want to leave open the possibility in Spring Training. When you consider that Marquez, 23 in January, is already on the 40-man roster, might be on an innings limit in 2022, and can throw 100 mph, well, the Cubs might not want to waste too many of those bullets at Double-A and Triple-A.

I’ll keep an open mind. I’m not expecting Marquez to be a contributor next year, and I’ll mostly just hope for a healthy year of 80+ innings spent primarily in the minors. But if he’s looking good and strong in the spring? OK, maybe I’ll get my hopes up a little bit for a big breakthrough. Maybe a few months as a multi-inning guy? Maybe a few starts? Maybe an explosion as an elite high-leverage relIEVER IN THE STRETCH RUN AND THROUGH THE POSTSEASON TO A WORLD SERIES CHA

OK. Ok. ok. I’m calm again. Just hoping for health. Just hoping for health.

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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