March 12, 2013; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings (8) hat and glove lay in the dugout against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hot Rod of the Day: German Marquez

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Don’t look now, but here come the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Arguably one of the hottest teams in minor league baseball, the Bowling Green club has made a considerable turnaround. After taking three of four from the South Bend Silver Hawks, Michael Johns and his squad opened a weekend series against the Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers) with a decisive 8-1 win, giving the Hot Rods their 11th win on the season and ninth win in their past 12 games played. The Hot Rods have been swinging the bat well, but that has been a common trend throughout the year. What has been the real downer is the pitching, but it has been solid as of late, and last night’s starter, German Marquez, continued it.

In his first 9.1 innings of baseball in Bowling Green, Marquez only surrendered one run, and, after last night, is 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA after 22.2 IP in 5 games. The effort that earned him Hot Rod of the Day was a modest 5 innings pitched, allowing just three hits, walking a pair and striking out five on his way to keeping to Loons off the board.

Marquez is not a well-known prospect, but that isn’t because he lacks the stuff–he signed as an international free agent in 2011 for $225,000 and has swiftly moved up the Rays ladder since. Marquez started in the Venezuelan Summer League and didn’t fare too well as a 17 year old, finishing the year with a 6.82 ERA. However, those results didn’t worry the Rays too much, as he they not only brought him to the US, but also skipped him over the Gulf Coast League to Princeton, where he managed a 4.05 ERA over 53 innings pitched. It is extremely impressive that he did so at just 18 years of age, 2.5 years younger than the league average, and it says even more that the Rays jumped him straight from Princeton to Bowling Green. It is not just the youth that makes Marques so interesting, though–his fastball has touched 95 MPH and he also shows promise with a curveball.

German Marquez is quickly establishing himself as a pitching prospect to watch in the Tampa Bay Rays system, and is helping to provide the Bowling Green Hot Rods with the balance between hitting and pitching that was missing earlier in the season. The way things are going now, it will be exciting to see what happens to Marquez and the Hot Rods as the year progresses.

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