Name: Brad Markey
Position: Starting Pitcher
Age: 23 (3/3/1992)
How Acquired: Drafted in the 19th round in 2014, pick # 559, out of Virginia Tech.
Status: Rule 5 eligible after 2017 season
What started out as a spot start in South Bend, ended up in a dog pile in Myrtle Beach for Cubs pitching prospect Brad Markey last season. The 2015 19th round pick had a breakout season after moving into the rotation, that included being named Cubs minor league pitcher of the month and a Carolina League pitcher of the week honor.
While Jake Arietta was shutting down big league hitters in the second half for Chicago, Markey was just as impressive after being promoted to High A, going 7-0 in eight starts with a 1.15 ERA in 55 innings. Markey pounded the strike zone after his promotion to High A and helped lead Myrtle Beach to the Carolina League title, tossing eight innings of one-hit ball with eight strikeouts in a Game 2 win over Winston-Salem in the finals. Not bad for a 5-foot-11 right-hander who started the season at extended spring training.
A product of C. Milton Wright High School and the Baltimore Sun Player of the Year as a senior in 2010, Markey headed to Georgia Tech but only threw six innings as a freshman and transferred to Sane Fe Junior College in Gainesville, Florida, where he excelled, earning Pitcher of the Year honors with a 10-4 mark and a 1.33 ERA in 95 innings. The Mets used their 35th round pick on the righty but instead of turning pro, spent his final two years at Virginia Tech. A two-time academic all-ACC member, Markey led the Hokies in ERA, innings and strikeouts in 2014 and his career 3.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 1.97 BB/K rank second in Virginia Tech history.
The Maryland native made his pro debut June 24 in the Arizona Rookie League, allowing a run on two hits in an inning of relief against the Angels. After a shutout inning against the Giants, Markey was headed north to Boise and the Northwest League. Like all of the college starters drafted by the Cubs, Markey’s outings were limited to around two innings, tossing three frames twice in 13 appearances. He recorded his first pro save July 26 against Everett and then picked up his first pro win Aug. 11 against Eugene. Markey logged 27 innings with a 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5 BB, 27 K. In the postseason, he got tagged with a blown save and took the loss as the Hawks fell to Hillsboro in Game 1 in the first round, a series they lost.
When the full-season teams broke camp in Mesa, Markey stayed behind and didn’t make his Midwest League debut until May 17 when he was promoted to South Bend after the Cubs placed Jake Stinnett on the DL. Working out of the bullpen, Markey made 11 appearances, several in long relief as he worked at least two innings in eight games. After not making a start in over a year, Markey took the hill against Lansing on July 1, allowing two earned runs on five hits and a walk over five innings. Four days later he was on his way to Myrtle Beach. In his High A debut, Markey only needed 75 pitches to hold Winston-Salem to a run over six innings, limiting the Dash to four hits. He earned the win in 4.2 innings of relief against Carolina in his next outing and then got the win in six of his next seven starts, including a career-high 10-strikeout performance against Carolina. He was named Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July (3-0, 0.76 ERA, 23.2 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 18 K, 0.59 WHIP) and tabbed the Carolina League’s top pitcher the final week of the year for his seven shutout innings at Wilmington on Sept. 4. Markey ended his first full season logging 113 innings with a 1.99 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. He only walked 15 and had a BAA of .214.
Tools and 2016 Outlook
If he was a top draft pick, Markey would have been the talk of minor league baseball last summer with the numbers he put up in the Carolina League. A smooth delivery with a slight fall-off to the third base side, the right-hander commands a late-moving, tailing fastball that sits 91-93 and tops at 95. While he pounds the zone with his fastball, Markey posses a sharp biting curve (77-82) that he’s throws anytime in the count. He also mixes in an occasional change-up in the mid-80s. Despite his height, I believe Markey has a shot at staying in a starting role. I like his “bulldog mentality” and was impressed with his ability to execute pitches even when in trouble. While in Myrtle Beach, he threw 67 percent of his pitches for strikes and benefitted from a stellar defense that’s somewhat reflected in a .230 BaBIP. With a log jam of starting pitchers battling for spots in AA, its likely Markey starts the year back in Myrtle Beach but should be wearing a Smokies uniform by season’s end if he continues to dominate hitters in the Carolina League.