Welcome to the BSN Denver Colorado Rockies Top 25 Under 25 where we will rank the organization’s best players who will be 25 years-old or younger on Opening Day 2017.
Our parameters for this list may be different than others it resembles so let us be clear about them:
The list was created entirely by the BSN Rockies staff and had no other input from any outside sources.
While giving credit for overall (or trade) value, we prioritized an ability to help the MLB club win immediately.
In accordance with this, we also prioritized players with fewer question marks but potentially lower ceilings.
Statistics were considered on equal level with scouting reports in addition to our own field reporting.
Our observations come through a combination of spending parts of each of the past four (going on five) seasons on the ground on the backfields at spring training and through our regular reporting from Rookie Level Grand Junction, talking to coaches, scouts, and journalists both on and off the record. Of course, countless hours are spent on MiLB.tv and combing over public reports from other credible sources.
No. 6: German Marquez, 22 (RHP)
A year ago at this time, German Marquez would not have made a list of the Colorado Rockies Top 10 young players, and not just because he was still fresh in from Tampa Bay Rays system. The right-handed sinker-baller was more of a target in the trade that sent Corey Dickerson and Kevin Padlo to Tampa in exchange for himself and reliever Jake McGee, but maybe more than most realized at the time.
While he was rising up the ranks a bit after a very solid 2015, Marquez was still nowhere to be found on the myriad Top 100 Prospect lists. In fact, MLB Pipeline didn't even list Marquez in the Top 20 in Tampa Bay's system at the time of the trade.
But apparently Jeff Bridich saw something he liked and that something led to the (just turned) 22-year-old to dominate the Eastern League, despite being one of its youngest competitors, to the tune of a 2.85 ERA and their Pitcher of the Year Award. A few weeks after being named to that honor, Marquez made his MLB debut and a few short days after that, he became the second youngest pitcher in Rockies history to record a win ... by just six days.
Marquez' success derives from heavy, tailing sink on his fastball that at its best moves like a sinker and can touch 97 mph. That pitch in particular has some scouts wondering if he will end up in the bullpen, but so far he has shown good enough grasp of the change up and curveball to find success multiple times through the order. Like most 22-year-olds, the command could be sharpened all the way around.
But Marquez' wicked movement and self-confidence lead to a lot of pitches in the zone. As we have discussed many times during this series (and pretty much all the time) Rockies pitching throughout their 24-year history is better the fewer walks they allow. More than any other stat, low walk rates correlate to success not just for the pitchers but for the team.
Marquez posted a 2.19 BB/9 rate in Double-A and actually lowered it to 1.74 over a short 30-inning stint at Triple-A. During his 20 innings at MLB? 2.61BB/9. He isn't afraid to put the ball in the zone and sink or swim with the results.
Whether or not his arsenal is diverse enough to frustrate the best hitters in the world over a significant period of time remains to be seen, but Marquez has already shown and ability to hang at the top level. He has been knocked around a little early in spring training, and Jeff Hoffman appeared to have the inside track for the fifth rotation spot anyway. But Marquez is likely the first guy considered should the MLB club need a pitcher, maybe of any kind. Bud Black has stated he would not necessarily be against getting Marquez onto the team via the bullpen and easing him into his Big League career that way. Best case scenario for Marquez has him as a starter, but a very good scenario for the Rockies could see him bolster a bullpen with a lot of question marks in it.
He will most likely start the year out for the Isotopes at the very top of their rotation. Whatever the case, Marquez will be called upon to impact this team in 2017 unless the Rockies have the healthiest season in their history.
While looking at minor league box scores early in the season, German Marquez will almost certainly be the most important name to keep an eye on. If he continues to develop the way he did last season, then the Rockies have another legitimate potential ace to go alongside Jon Gray, Jeff Hoffman, and Kyle Freeland in the 25-and-under-but-ready-right-now class.