Brailyn Marquez is the top pitching prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization. He made his MLB debut in 2020, at the very young age of 21. This was after jumping up after a split season between A South Bend and A+ Myrtle Beach. (Thank you, cancelled minor league season.) While he figures to need some more seasoning before coming back to the big league level, he has great raw stuff, which is what I'm here to talk about today.
Marquez throws just three pitches:
Four seam fastball: 98mph
He has limited data per his one appearance in 2020. Per Brooks Baseball:
His fourseam fastball has heavy sinking action, is thrown at a speed that's borderline unfair and is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' fourseamers. His change is thrown extremely hard, generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' changeups, dives down out of the zone and is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' changeups. His slider generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders, has exceptional depth and results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders.
When a pitcher only has three pitches, I assume they will go to the bullpen. Since starting pitchers have to get through a lineup multiple times, They typically need a multitude of pitches to keep hitters guessing as the game progresses. Since relievers are needed on a much more limited basis, they can get away with less. Marquez did start 55 out of 57 games in the minors, averaging about 5 innings per start. I'm just not sure I see him making the rotation as things stand right now.
Regarding his three solid pitches, there is a major word of warning: all three of his pitches are fly ball pitches. Two of which are described as extreme. They also talk about missing bats, but in this age of baseball, hitters will launch angle and exit velocity fly ball pitches.
I'm genuinely surprised at the velocity of his changeup. Honestly, offhand I can't think of a faster changeup from another pitcher. I feel like the next highest I can come up with in the upper 80s, but couldn't tell you who. Maybe Randy Johnson in his heyday? Judging by this tracker chart, the 8 mph difference and movement should serve Marquez well, provided he can miss bats.
Here's a look at video from all three pitches. Notice how similar the slider and changeup are.
Good stuff. When he's on, he can strike anyone out. The fastball is devastating, combined with the speed change and movement of both the changeup and slider. As we saw in his debut, he can be plenty wild. In the minors, he walked 3.5 batters per 9. That's a bit high, but not unreasonably so. Hopefully Marquez continues to develop and tightens it up. As a prospect who was ranked as 37th best by Baseball America going into 2020, there's a lot of upside for Marquez.