The Astros have signed left-hander Brailyn Marquez to a minor league contract, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. It’s unclear if the southpaw will receive an invitation to major league Spring Training.
Marquez, 25 in January, joins a new organization for the first time in his career. The Cubs signed him as an international amateur out of the Dominican Republic during the 2015-16 signing period and he has been with that club until now. As a minor leaguer, he became one of the top prospects in that system and one of the top 100 in the league, thanks to a fastball that could touch triple digits. But that power came with poor command and subsequent health problems.
He was able to make his major league debut in 2020, but lasted just two thirds of an inning while issuing three walks and allowing five earned runs. After that, he didn’t pitch at all in either the 2021 or 2022 campaigns, spending each of those two seasons on the minor league injured list. He underwent shoulder surgery in July of 2022 and was non-tendered after that campaign.
He re-signed with the Cubs on a minor league deal for 2023 and didn’t make an appearance until the middle of June. He eventually got into 23 games on the farm, tossing 30 2/3 innings across various levels. He had a 4.99 earned run average in that time while striking out 28.4% of batters, but he also issued walks at a 24.5% clip.
That’s still a fairly small sample size after two completely lost seasons, so just taking the mound and getting some punchouts counts as a good bit of progress. Despite the setbacks, he is still quite young, in addition to having just three days of service time and one remaining option year. Perhaps getting further removed from his surgery can allow him to improve his control as time goes on, thus making him a viable depth piece for the Astros.
He came up as a starter but he’s probably best suited to relief work now, after not pitching much in the past four years due to injuries and the pandemic. The Astros have often operated without much in terms of left-handed relief in recent years. They currently have Bennett Sousa, Parker Mushinski and Matt Gage on the 40-man roster but no one in that group has reached 30 MLB innings pitched yet.