Drafted: Supplemental 1st Round in 2004 out of Sacramento College
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: Jeff Marquez has a strong sinking fastball that he throws around 92-93 mph, topping out a few ticks higher. He gets a ton of groundballs with it. He could add a few mph as he puts some muscle on his body. Marquez's fastball is good, but his real strength comes with his plus changeup, probably the best in the Yankee system. He throws it from the exact same arm slot as his fastball, but at 76 mph. He also throws a very good curveball at around the same velocity.
Command: Marquez commands his fastball and changeup extremely well. He does not rely on the strikeout, although he certainly does get his fair share (he has a career K/9 of 7.48 in the minors). Instead, he causes hitters to pound the ball in to the ground like Brandon Webb. He does not command his curveball nearly as well, although it is still a good pitch. The curveball (which Nardi Contreras seems to be teaching to every Yankee starter) has a lot of break to it, but generally breaks into the dirt. Marquez has only been throwing it for a season and a half, so it certainly could improve. He shows a remarkable ability to prevent home runs, allowing only 11 home runs in over 300 innings.
Outlook: Marquez battled injuries throughout 2006, but did not get run off his course. He pitched just under 100 innings in 2006, posting a 3.58 ERA, 90 strikeouts and 30 walks in Tampa. This is after throwing 139 innings of 3.42 ERA ball in Charleston with 107 strikeouts and 61 walks. His control has improved considerably since in that small time, in part thanks to the development of his curveball. Marquez is not having a good time in the Hawaiian league right now, but he is still likely to head to AA Trenton next season. Marquez will be an effective major league player for a couple of reasons. He strikes people out, forces them to pound balls into the ground, rarely walks people, and does not allow a lot of home runs. The injuries that he missed time with were just a couple of muscle strains. I have a lot of faith in guys who change speeds as well as Marquez does. He was a first round pick for a reason. He may be converted to a reliever due to a surplus of Yankee starters, but I doubt it.
Grades: Ceiling B+, Health B, Comparison: Ramiro Mendoza
Friday, December 29, 2006