With one of the best records in the Minor Leagues entering Sunday, the Hartford Yard Goats seemingly have had a different hero every day. On Mother's Day in Manchester, it was German Marquez's turn in the spotlight.
The Rockies' No. 13 prospect took a no-hitter into the eighth and matched the longest outing of his career by throwing eight one-hit innings as Double-A Hartford thumped New Hampshire, 10-0.
"His key to success is staying in the zone and keeping that curveball as a weapon, getting it over the plate as far as a strike is concerned," Yard Goats pitching coach Dave Burba said. "His delivery is so easy and smooth that the fastball just explodes out of his hand. It doesn't even look like he's trying to throw hard, and he's averaging 93, 94 miles an hour. Today, he was in the zone pretty much the whole game."
Acquired from the Rays with big league closer Jake McGee in the offseason trade for outfielder Corey Dickerson, Marquez lowered his ERA to an Eastern League-leading 1.03. He struck out eight, one shy of the career high he established last Aug. 21.
"He did a heck of a job of mixing speeds as the game went forward," Burba said. "Early in the game, he established his fastball and he was using his curveball well for a strike and as a putaway [pitch]."
Marquez faced one batter over the minimum through six innings after Jorge Flores reached on an error in the third by third baseman Ryan McMahon, MLB.com's No. 44 overall prospect. New Hampshire's next baserunner didn't come until the seventh when Dwight Smith Jr. worked a one-out walk, snapping a string of 11 retired by Marquez.
"He's very eager to learn and he wants to get better," said Burba. "He's a very teachable kid. The beauty about him is he will come to you and tell you, 'Here's how I feel I need to get better, and I need to do this and do that.' It's really not a secret with him. He's been working really hard as we move forward this spring. Early in the season, there were some issues I thought we needed to get cleaned up, and he was right there willing to go every time."
The rhythm Marquez discovered was even more impressive, considering how much time he spent in the dugout. Hartford sent nine batters to the plate while scoring five runs in the third and plated two more in each of the next two frames. Dillon Thomas belted a two-run homer to right-center in the third, and No. 2 Rockies prospect David Dahl mashed a two-run shot to right in the fifth, his league-leading ninth.
The waiting didn't trip up Marquez, who improved to 3-1.
"He's a pretty quiet kid. He just sits up on the bench, and the way that game was going, nobody was really messing with him or talking to him," Burba said. "Whenever you have a no-hitter going, nobody really seems to talk to you. It was early in the game and we were having some long innings.
"He stayed up there and did what he's supposed to do, stayed locked in."
Having not allowed a hit and thrown only 79 pitches entering the eighth, Marquez issued a leadoff walk to K.C. Hobson. Wilkin Castillo followed with a single to right to end the no-hit bid, but Hartford's staff didn't give the 21-year-old the hook.
"You could tell his confidence level was there," Burba said.
Marquez rewarded that faith by retiring the next three batters to close his day. The Venezuela native finished with 103 pitches, 68 for strikes, and helped the Yard Goats reduce their team ERA to 2.02, by far the best in the league and an accomplishment Burba has not seen in his career.
"I had a fun group my very first year coaching in [Class A Short Season] Tri-City," he said. "We led the league in ERA there and I had one pitcher that seemed like every time he pitched, he threw six, seven, eight scoreless innings. That was (current Rockies reliever) Christian Bergman.
"What's really neat about this staff is they feed off each other. The guys are down there watching guys throw their bullpens. They work well together. They're good learners. They're very attentive on when we talk about things, how to get better, things they need to improve on. All of them have done a wonderful job making the adjustments they've needed to make."
Every Yard Goat in the lineup registered at least one hit, with five players picking up at least two. Thomas, Dahl and Rosell Herrera each drove in a pair of runs.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.