Lefty Brailyn Márquez has been ranked among the Cubs top prospects for a while now and he was expected to be a “pitching weapon” this season, but his absence from camp raised a lot of questions. He finally answered them when he reported Monday after having been cleared in the wake of a symptomatic case of COVID, his second bout with the virus. Márquez did not pitch in a game last year due to a combination of myocarditis from that first infection and shoulder issues that kept him from throwing at all for a good chunk of the season.
LHP Brailyn Márquez has reported to #Cubs camp. He was delayed after testing positive for COVID and was symptomatic.
Márquez, who is vaccinated, says he's feeling good.
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 21, 2022
“When the heart issue popped up, it wasn’t something that went through my mind that it was going to be career-ending,” Márquez told the Tribune’s Meghan Montemurro. “But definitely as the process kept going, I made sure to pay attention to it, that it could be something and to make sure that we took care of it.”
He says he’s feeling good now, but there’s a lot of ground to make up from the last two years. The fireballing southpaw reported to the Cubs’ alternate site in 2020 somewhat out of shape, which is understandable given the nature of the situation, and took a while to regain his form. Then you take last year’s setbacks and the prolonged time away this spring into account, and it’s not difficult to be concerned for his immediate future, let alone further down the road.
The flip side is that Márquez was going to be on an innings limit anyway and might be better served working in a relief role as he works to build his arm back up for the rigors of competitive pitching. It’s almost easy to forget about his massive potential because of the time he’s missed, but getting back on the mound this season should remind everyone pretty quickly.
“We still feel like the foundation’s there,” pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said Monday. Talking to him about what he did in the offseason and how he looks, he’s in a good place.
“There’s going to be a lot of communication over the next week or two, just to make sure that we’re doing things the right way.”