We’re now in the second half of our countdown of the Colorado Rockies top 10 prospects according to Baseball America. Kicking off the final five is a young Venezuelan that could crack the starting rotation in 2017.
One Sentence Summary: A virtual unknown when he joined the Rockies organization, Marquez’s excellent 2016 season has taken him from trade throw-in to the cusp of a MLB starting rotation.
Chances are good you had never heard of Marquez before the Rockies tradedCorey Dickerson to Tampa Bay for him and Jake McGee. A 21-year-old pitcher with a mostly successful, if unremarkable, track record in Single-A, even those who follow prospects closely had little to say about Marquez when he was acquired.
In the year since that trade, quite a bit has changed. Dickerson forgot how to hit. McGee forgot how to get guys out. But it wasn’t all bad; the Rockies are now looking like the winners of the trade, not because of McGee, but because of Marquez.
I wrote about Marquez in an article recapping the Rockies fifth starter situation about a month ago. That article explained what he’s done in greater detail, but the condensed version is that Marquez, a moderately successful pitcher in High A-Ball for the Rays, increased his K/9 rate to go with his already strong command and rose from Double-A to the big leagues in one season.
Because we’ve already covered his backstory, we’ll use the rest of this space to take a more in-depth look at his scouting profile. Marquez is primarily a two-pitch guy, mixing a mid-90s fastball with a “slurvy” curveball in the high 70s. He also throws a change-up, but it’s a distant third-best pitch that gets only occasional use in games.
A scout for Baseball Prospectus wrote the following about Marquez’s mechanics after watching him pitch in Double-A last season.
“Essentially works out of the stretch. A bit of an aborted windup/foot shuffle to get to his real starting position. Shallow stride and compact arm action. Stiff and upright at landing, but repeats everything well. Lost arm speed as he tired.”
Marquez’s motion is extremely simple. As the quote states, he pitches from the stretch, or something closely resembling it, at all times, which is typical for a reliever but unusual to see from a starter. While this might look somewhat strange, Marquez’s strong command of the strike zone seems to indicate that the simplistic approach can be effective for him.
That being said, some of Marquez’s issues might also be a by-product of that same simple motion. The shallow, upright landing point on Marquez’s stride means his arm ends up doing most of the work. This can be stressful on the arm and cause problems both in the short-term (like the dip in velocity the scout described above) and the long-term (potential arm health issues).
Because Marquez is most effective working off of two pitches, and because he already sort of pitches like one in using the stretch at all times, there are some who believe his future is as a reliever. GM Jeff Bridich almost certainly wouldn’t admit it publicly, but one has to believe he’d rather see Jeff Hoffman beat out Marquez for the final rotation spot, if for no other reason then to validate the Troy Tulowitzki trade in fans’ eyes.
Ultimately though, you have to believe that the primary goal for Colorado in 2017 is to win ballgames, and if Marquez gives them a better chance to do that, they won’t hesitate to turn to him as their fifth starter. No matter what happens, Marquez is definitely no longer anonymous to Rockies fans.