German Marquez was not a widely heralded international free agent when he signed back in 2011. But, after signing for a still decent $225,000 bonus, Marquez is quickly moving his way up and is establishing himself in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system, yet he still is a fairly unknown player. If he keeps up the good work, he could not only be one of the top prospects in the organization, but one of the top prospects in all of baseball.
After signing, Marquez was sent to the Venezuelan Summer League in 2012, largely considered the poorest quality talent in minor league baseball. He did not fare well as a 17-year old, posting just a 6.82 ERA. However, the Rays decided not only to send him state-side in 2013, but he skipped over the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League to the Appalachian League. He was a bit better, posting a 4.05 ERA in 53.1 innings despite being 2.5 years younger than the league average. Once again, the numbers that were nothing to special, but the Rays aggressively assigned him to a full season affiliate at Low-A Bowling Green, where he has given up just one run in his first 9.1 innings. What about Marquez do the Rays love so much that they go against their organizational philosophy of advancing pitchers slowly?
Everything you need to know comes in the scouting report. As a 19-year old, Marquez already sits in the 90-93 MPH range with his fastball, and can touch 95 when he needs to get an out. There are pitchers that are more projectable than him, but at 6’1”, 184 lbs, he should add more velocity as he continues to mature. Behind his fastball, Marquez already throws an advanced curveball that sits in the high-70 MPH range. Very few pitchers that are in their teens feature a curveball with the kind of tight spin that Marquez’s does. He also commands the pitch down in the zone nicely, something that is even rarer for a 19-year old. Marquez’s third pitch is his changeup, which is far behind the other pitches. The good news is that even though he struggles to find movement on it, he already knows how and where to throw it for strikes. Not even in his 20′s, he has plenty of time to learn the pitch, and will be learning from a Rays’ organization that is the best in the business at teaching the changeup.
Marquez’s stuff is already advanced beyond his years despite a changeup that lags behind, but he impresses even more with his delivery. He has a fluid, yet aggressive motion that not only allows him to maximize his velocity, but also allows him to command the ball down in the zone. In fact, in the Appalachian year last year, he posted a solid 55.9% ground ball rate, which showcases how strong he already is at commanding his pitches. Not only does his delivery help with his command, but he is already ensuring that as much strain is taken off of his arm, making him less of an injury risk. He also maintains his velocity through all of his starts, something that most young pitchers struggle to do. He pitches with a maturity beyond his years thanks to his solid mechanics, and only can go up from here.
Keep an eye out for German Marquez to truly establish himself this year. His fastball and curveball already are showing plus potential, and while his changeup lags behind, the Rays are great at teaching the pitch. Add in fluid mechanics that allow him to command the ball down in the zone, and Marquez pitches like someone in their mid-20′s rather than the 19-year old that he truly is. Despite all of this, he has flown under the radar because his numbers haven’t been special in a small sample size. But this year, that could all change in Low-A, and Marquez could quickly become one of baseball’s top prospects.