Prior to Sunday’s regular season finale against the White Sox, the Cubs selected the contract of top pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez from their South Bend alternate site.
“The last few weeks, he’s really come on strong and it got to the point where we felt like he deserved this opportunity,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said Sunday.
Marquez, 21, is the No. 64 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He’s pitched as high as Single-A, making 22 starts last season between South Bend and Myrtle Beach. In 103 2/3 innings, he posted a 3.13 ERA, striking out 128.
He was dominant at Myrtle Beach in five starts to end the season (1.71 ERA, 26 K in 26 IP).
The Cubs added Marquez to their 40-man postseason player pool, making him eligible for their roster each round. But Epstein called it an all-around “process” to get the lefty to this point after MLB’s hiatus, crediting him for the hard work he put in.
Marquez needed to get in shape at South Bend before working through mechanical issues. It was then a matter of getting his stuff back to where it was prior to the MLB’s shutdown.
“He’s made a lot of improvements,” Epstein said. “He’s added some pitches, which you’ll see today. His sinker is a relatively new pitch for him that’s been looking really effective, and his changeup as well.”
With a fastball that touches 100 mph, Cubs believe Marquez could be a weapon out of their bullpen during the postseason, especially with no in-series off days, which will make pitching depth more important than ever. The plan is for him to get an inning of work on Sunday so the club can see how he fares.
“I don’t think it’s a make or break performance in that aspect,” manager David Ross said. “I’m happy for the kid. He’s getting his first opportunity to be in the major leagues, and we’ll assess that afterwards.”
Added Epstein: “It was definitely a process, but we’re really comfortable with where he is right now. In fact, we’re excited with where he is right now.
“Happy for him to have this opportunity and we’ll see what happens going forward.”
Infielder Patrick Wisdom was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.