It’s a question I get asked more than any other prospect-related question this year: what’s up with Brailyn Marquez?
Given what a huge prospect Marquez has been over the last few years – on rankings lists, at least – I understand why there’s an outsized focus on the triple-digit lefty. I never have much of an answer, though, which is its own kind of answer.
After missing the 2020 pandemic year (except for work at the alternate site and that one big league appearance), Marquez missed the 2021 season after a bad case of COVID and then repeated shoulder issues. Then, Marquez dealt with another bad case of COVID just before Spring Training this year, which delayed his arrival and set him back in the ramp up. You also have to wonder what the impact was of not being able to work with the Cubs all offseason during the lockout.
That is all to say, the fact that I never have much of an answer for folks on what’s going on with Marquez – here in late May – says that he must not be particularly close to a return to action.
Today’s update more or less confirms that presumption, but there is a LITTLE bit to update.
“Not sure on games,” Cubs President Jed Hoyer said of when Marquez might finally appear this year. “He’s throwing. We’re trying to get him off the mound and get him to pitching in games. That’s not imminent right now.”
Cubs GM Carter Hawkins offered a little more color to the Des Moines Register when asked if he thought Marquez would pitch sometime this season at Triple-A Iowa: “I think so. He started to get off the mound a little bit here over the last few days. It’s been tough for him to get over the hump just from a health standpoint. But once he does, we know he’s got some pretty electric stuff.”
So, basically, Marquez is only just now starting to throw a little off the mound, which would mean game action – even extended Spring Training games or Complex League games (which start in a little over two weeks) – is still a ways off. As Hoyer said, “not imminent.” The build up process once throwing off the mound is a multiple week thing, and if the Cubs still have hopes on Marquez as a starting pitcher, it’s going to be even more cautious than that. (Also, I don’t love the sound of that “it’s been tough for him to get over the hump just from a health standpoint” part. I feel for the guy.)
Since Marquez is going to be on a serious innings limit this year anyway, you aren’t necessarily worried yet about missed time (this year, I mean – you’re ALWAYS worried about the missed time the last two years!). That said, there have long been concerns that the delivery and the body would not allow Marquez to be a consistent starting pitcher long-term, and now when you throw in shoulder issues and him not having pitched in a serious competitive way since 2019, it’s become extremely hard to imagine Marquez being a starting pitcher in the big leagues. I mean, he hasn’t even pitched at Double-A or Triple-A! Ever! We have no idea how he’ll even look right now.
In other words, if you wind up getting an impactful reliever out of Marquez in the years ahead, I think you’d have to consider that a win at this point. The circumstances all suck, and I feel bad for Marquez’s injury/sickness issues. I just want to stay realistic about what he could be in the future, if anything.
I’ll stay open-minded, though, especially given that Marquez is still only 23. Maybe Marquez gets in 70-ish innings across 15 starts in the second half this year at Double-A/Triple-A, and he’s right back on the radar as a true starting pitching prospect. We’ll see. For now, I just want to see the guy get back into games. Any games. In any role.