Just because you’ve really been hoping for an update on an injured player, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy when you finally get one.
For a year and a half now, Cubs lefty pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez has been trying to ramp up to competitive pitching. And for a year and a half, intermittent bouts of bad COVID and shoulder injuries have prevented it.
Now we know he isn’t coming back this year at all.
For Marquez, this means a second straight season that is completely lost to injury. And when you throw in the 2020 pandemic season that featured no minor league game action, that year is pretty close to a lost one, too.
A debridement procedure can mean a lot of things – it’s basically just the arthroscopic removal of damaged/interfering tissue or cartilage – so it’s impossible to say, on the basis of what the Cubs shared today, whether this is a very-scary-never-gonna-be-the-same shoulder surgery, or a hey-maybe-they-found-the-real-issue-finally surgery. Maybe we’ll hear more in detail before the offseason. I kinda doubt it, though.
I suspect we won’t really get our answer on how serious the procedure was until this offseason when the Cubs make a 40-man roster decision on Marquez. He may stick around. He may not. Impossible to predict at this precise moment with the info we have.
If this was a minor procedure to try to finally rid Marquez of whatever interference/discomfort was preventing him from coming back, then you bet on the significant upside, and you use that 40-man spot so you can see how he looks in the spring.
If, however, it was a more serious procedure – and/or if he was already looking much rougher than we know – then it’s a closer call.
If there is no realistic chance for him to be back and ACTUALLY competing by midseason next year (or earlier, or a little later), then the Cubs may not be able to justify holding a 40-man roster spot for him for yet another offseason. At some point, when you’re talking about a guy who will have not really pitched competitively in almost three and a half or four years, you’re talking about so much missed development time. You’re talking about so much rust. You’re talking about so much re-injury risk. You’re talking about so much possible degradation in stuff.
In sum: this is truly awful and terrible news for a guy who, back in 2020 during the pandemic season, came up and briefly showed his triple-digit fastball. In theory, the future was still very bright for Marquez, who otherwise had yet to appear as high as Double-A. But then COVID hit him hard. And shoulder issues. And more COVID. And more shoulder issues. Thus, 2021 became a completely lost year, and now 2022 has become a completely lost year PLUS shoulder surgery.
I feel terrible for this guy. I hope there’s a future for him in a Cubs uniform. But right now we cannot predict it with any kind of confidence.