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January 16, 2007

by Fabian

Jeff Marquez, RHP, 22
Previously Ranked: 6th prior to 2006, 14th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 9th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 17th (C+)

Physical Ability: Jeff Marquez is a 6’2’’ right-hander who weighs in around 190 pounds. Marquez doesn’t have the natural downward plane of some of the taller guys in the system, but nonetheless generates tremendous sink on his 2-seam fastball. It is a pitch that typically registers in the low 90s and is complimented by a 4-seam fastball that Marquez can touch the mid 90s with. In addition to the sinking fastball, the other pitch Marquez is well known for is his change-up, which has been a plus pitch for him to this point in his career. Jeff’s primary arsenal is completed with the curveball, which is probably the pitch Jeff is working on the most at this point. Despite still needing some work, it has been a plus pitch for him on occasion.

What Happened in ’06: In 2006, things just didn’t break right for Marquez. Jeff came into the season hoping to pitch well in Tampa and get promoted to Trenton. I thought that was a reasonable enough expectation given his talent and the composition of the minor league squads at the time. Unfortunately, that did not happen. As tends to happen with groundball pitchers from time to time, Marquez was beset with bad luck in April. His BABIP was way beyond where it should have been and resultantly, so was his ERA. Then once the numbers began to make sense, Marquez was placed on the disabled list with a muscle strain. This would keep him out for the better part of 2 months. Upon returning to Tampa, Marquez continued to pitch well, but at that point it was too little too late and he would have to settle for only having a solid year at Tampa. Sent to the HBL to complete the calendar year, it seemed that Marquez would dominate, unfortunately he struggled with his command and the results were poor.

What Lies Ahead: The key for Jeff’s development will be how well he commands his fastball within the strike zone. At the moment, he’s got pretty good control, he can get the ball in the strike zone on a regular basis, but he needs to throw more quality strikes. Once he does that, the natural movement on his pitches, particularly his fastball, will further increase his already excellent groundball rate. The other development to watch with Marquez will be how quickly he picks up the curveball. It has shown flashes, but is still not dependable. If he can get the hang of it, Marquez could potentially be the proud owner of 4 plus pitches. Additionally, while he has not shown any pronounced platoon splits to this point, such a development would allow him to more easily dispatch left-handed batters. Given the logjam of pitching, especially at the upper levels, the Yankees will be able to be patient with Marquez.

Grade: Marquez is probably the prospect where my opinion is the most divergent from the mainstream. Part of this is that he is one of the guys that I just have a good gut feeling about. The other part is that I feel he profiles very well from a tools point of view. In addition, his performance has been better than his more basic numbers would indicate when accounting for the type of pitcher he is. He already strikes out a fair amount of guys, and I think he may strike out more as he develops as a pitcher, he’s got solid overall control/command, and he gets tons of grounders and pop ups. If everything works out, I think Jeff Marquez might just be Brandon Webb (you know, Chien-Ming Wang without the little voice in the back of your head whispering “where are the strikeouts?”) and for that, I’m bullish on his prospect status. B

Dellin Betances #7