Brailyn Marquez was good enough in his last start to earn Midwest League Pitcher of the Week honors. His outing on Wednesday night may have been even better.The fourth-ranked Cubs prospect was nearly perfect over six hitless innings as Class A South Bend shut down West Michigan, 5-1, at Four Winds
Brailyn Marquez was good enough in his last start to earn Midwest League Pitcher of the Week honors. His outing on Wednesday night may have been even better.
The fourth-ranked Cubs prospect was nearly perfect over six hitless innings as Class A South Bend shut down West Michigan, 5-1, at Four Winds Field. He struck out eight and allowed one baserunner on a walk.
The performance comes on the heels of an outing last week in which Marquez (5-4) logged a career-high 14 strikeouts against Lake County. South Bend pitching coach Jamie Vermilyea was ecstatic to see both stellar performances but was particularly impressed by how he pitched against the Whitecaps.
"You can kind of flip a coin and pick which one's better," he said. "Obviously, the 14 strikeouts jump out at you, but the stuff that he had tonight would play at any level, really."
Marquez fanned five of the first eight batters that stepped into the box. He faced the minimum until the fifth, when he issued a five-pitch walk to Cooper Johnson. He came back and punched out Dayton Dugas to end the inning, then went 1-2-3 in the sixth to wrap up his outing.
The left-hander mixed a multitude of pitches throughout the game against West Michigan, including his 65-grade fastball that sits around 100 mph on the radar gun. However, Vermilyea said the real key to Marquez's performance was something else that's been a driving force behind his recent success -- his changeup.
"This year, kind of a big pitch that's been helping him out a whole lot is his changeup ... he's starting to get more confidence in his changeup and starting to keep guys off-balance with that," he said. "He gets a lot of movement, so he's getting swings and misses with it as well, so it's kind of been a big confidence booster and just makes his fastball play even better."
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And while no coach would ever expect a pitcher to toss six no-hit innings or strike out 14 batters, Vermilyea is not necessarily surprised to see him thrive like this. He knows he's capable of pitching at this level.
"The stuff that he has, you're definitely not surprised," Vermilyea said. "He's got overpowering stuff ... especially at this level, when you have a left-handed pitcher that's throwing 100 and he has an idea of where it's going, and he has a couple secondary pitches that he can command. You don't expect it, but you're definitely not surprised when you see it happen."
Marquez lowered his ERA to 3.61 in 17 starts. Over his last three outings, he's allowed one earned run on five hits while striking out 29 over 17 innings.
Moving forward, Vermilyea said it won't be hard to keep Marquez grounded and focused on building off that success. While he's certainly happy to be thriving in such an emphatic manner, he knows that within the grand scheme of things, this is just the beginning.
"He doesn't really get too high or too low, to be honest with you," he said. "He's a pretty levelheaded kid, so I mean he doesn't let the success get to him too much. Because he knows that the ultimate goal is to pitch in the big leagues."
Casey Ryan relieved Marquez to start the seventh and lost the no-hit bid when Andre Lipcius singled with one out.
Cubs No. 3 prospect Brennen Davis delivered an RBI single before leaving with an injured hand. Sixth-ranked Cole Roederer went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored, while Jonathan Sierra chipped in two hits and two RBIs for South Bend.
Jordan Wolf is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @byjordanwolf.