Brailyn Marquez Takes Advantage Of Taking It Slow
You don’t need decades of scouting experience or access to cutting-edge technology to know what the Cubs see in Brailyn Marquez, a 6-foot-4 lefthander with a 100 mph fastball.
Marquez made his big league debut on the final day of the 2020 season without any experience above Class A—and it showed.
He gave up three walks and threw two wild pitches without finishing the inning. But that was only a snapshot of the elite prospect the Cubs signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.
In recent years, the organization has tried to reboot all of its scouting and player development systems, in the hopes of finally generating a group of homegrown pitchers. The 6-foot-4 Marquez is at the top of that potential list.
“On the mound, he looks different,” Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. “You could talk all you want about old-school approaches and views and how we’re so data-centric now, but just that physicality is so different . . .
“Over the last three or four years, the way things have synced up for him delivery-wise—when you still have a lot of growing to do—you’ve seen the (velocity) go from 92 (mph) to 94 to 97 to touching 100. You see all that starting to come together.”
That progression is a credit to Marquez’s work in the weight room and with the organization’s strength and conditioning staff. He also took advantage of the opportunity and resources at the South Bend alternate training site last summer, working on a two-seam grip and studying his arm action.
“What last year allowed us to do was take a longer runway with him, in terms of getting him physically up to speed,” Hottovy said.
“Going to that alternate site allowed him to refine some things mechanically, sync some things up that we wanted to work on without having to worry about putting up numbers right away, using that time to kind of hone in (and) let him hit his stride on his own.
"It also (let him) continue to explore ways to optimize his stuff in the strike zone.”
— While money was a driving factor in the Yu Darvish trade, the Cubs are also bullish on their high performance department and what those staffers and investments in technology can do for the extremely young prospects acquired from the Padres' loaded farm system: Reginald Preciado, Yeison Santana, Owen Caissie and Ismael Mena.
— Though Miguel Amaya made a strong impression in winter ball and at the alternate training site, the Cubs have made it clear that the catcher won’t be part of their Opening Day plans. But Amaya, who will turn 22 in March, is on the 40-man roster and worth tracking as the Cubs figure out their next moves with Willson Contreras.