Hoover & Marquez Lead Way as Young and Fresh Arms

The trading of way of prospects left the Yankees farm system depleted, and when they needed the young pitching the most to acquire Randy Johnson, they had none to offer. Six of the first seven draft picks in the 2004 Amateur Draft for the Yankees were pitchers. Two of those, Jesse Hoover and Jeffrey Marquez have climbed the Yankees prospect ladder and are making an impact right away.

The saying around the New York tabloids and the rest of America was "what George Steinbrenner wants, he gets." Steinbrenner has the number one resource to accomplish many of his prized transactions and that is money. Every single off-season there is an All-Star in the free agent market, and every single year you hear the Yankees are the top contender for his services. The Yankees needed pitching this winter after losing Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and the Yankees spent no time trading their young players for pitching. Last July the Yankees traded their top pitching prospect, Brandon Claussen, for Aaron Boone. Steinbrenner has never bulked of holding on to his prospects to acquire a veteran to improve on his "win now" mentality. But the drafting of Jesse Hoover and Jeff Marquez have begun the restocking of pitching in the Yankees' farm system.

Hoover and Marquez are currently pitching for the Staten Island Yankees and both have had their prospect status hyped up within two months of entering professional baseball.

Marquez was the 41st overall pick in this year's draft out of Sacramento Community College. Marquez was not a big prospect at all coming out of high school and his stock really increased late in his college career.

"Going to a good college program really helped me a lot" say's Marquez. "They really helped me with my mechanics and getting stronger and helped me a lot as an all around pitcher."

Many teams were interested in Marquez entering the draft, however Marquez knew he would either be a Yankee or a Dodger, and was very anxious to find out his future on draft day.

"I was sitting in my fathers' office surrounding by my whole family and it was just an amazing experience. My agent was calling me the day before and I was just real anxious to see where I would end up."

Marquez began the year at the Gulf Coast League, however quickly joined Staten Island after pitching himself out of the GCL. In 9 starts with the Yankees this season Marquez has a 1.84 ERA and has allowed just 36 hits in 44 innings pitched.

"I really don't feel any pressure right now" say's the 20 year old right hander. "I know if I keep doing what I am now I'll be fine."

Marquez, who currently throws a 2-seam fastball to go with a change-up and curveball, really would like to develop his 4-seam fastball.

"I don't really mess around with the 4-seamer since I can't control it well right now. However, that is definitely a pitch I would like to continue working on."

The transition to professional baseball has been exciting for the young prospect and he is really being taken care of by the Yankees early in his career.

"It is all to prevent injury" he say's regarding the strict pitch count imposed on him. "They really don't want their high prospects getting hurt."

Marquez has drawn comparisons to Mariano Rivera and Ramiro Mendoza, both famous Yankees, however when asked which pitcher he likes to be compared with he gives an answer many Yankee fans will shriek to.

"I'd like to be compared to Pedro" a smiling Marquez said, who sees himself as a future major league starter.

Perhaps the most talked about prospect on the Staten Island Yankees is 6th round pick Jesse Hoover. Hoover, who has split time between starting and relieving, has allowed just 26 hits in 52 innings while striking out 83 batters.

Hoover was showcased on the YES Network on August 29 against the Brooklyn Cyclones, and was solid allowing just two hits in his five innings of work, while striking out 5 batters. Perhaps the best stat of that outing was his walk total, which was just 1. Hoover has struggled with his command, walking 23 batters, and is something he has had trouble with since college.

"I tend to get the ball up in the zone and that is when I get in trouble" said Hoover one day before making the television appearance set up for him. Hoover was held a day from his normal spot to be showcased by the Yankees on YES. "I had the same trouble in college and that is definitely something I need to work on."

"It really is just a matter of getting comfortable with your delivery, and repeating your motion. When you don't do that, then it leads to the high walk numbers."

Many times an organization will draft a pitcher and then begin to make adjustments with him. That has not been the case with Hoover and that is definitely something he appreciates.

"They just let us go out and do our own things, they might tweak something along the way, but other than that they just let us pitch. They don't try to alter your throwing motion or anything like that. I think that is good in terms of their philosophy being if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Hoover would like to eventually compare himself to Roger Clemens. "Not now" he said smiling "but down the road I would like to be compared to him."

Well Hoover could be compared to him at this point.

Hoover is currently a fastball, curveball pitcher, with a fastball that is clocked at 95 mph and can reach 96 and 97 mph. Hoover will eventually like to develop a splitter, a pitch that has made Roger Clemens famous, and has contributed greatly to his intimidation factor.

"I don't throw the splitter that much right now, but I know it is a pitch I will need to develop down the road" says Hoover. "I really model myself after Clemens, and hope one day to be as intimidating as he is.

Why does Hoover compare to Clemens at this point? Well, Clemens was a fastball curveball pitcher when he entered professional baseball, and the splitter was a pitch he developed along the way.

Hoover, who has been used as a reliever and starter, knows he must improve his pitches to remain a starter.

"I need to develop my off-speed pitches. If I just have the fastball and curveball then being a reliever will be more useful. However, if I can develop the splitter, like I know I can then I know I will be a pretty effective starter."

"I feel I am pretty versatile, and I am willing to help the team in any way they need me."

If Hoover's work ethic is any indication he will be successful. Hoover came out of high school throwing his fastball in the mid 80's. At that point he never expected to be in professional baseball, however put his goal in front of him, and began working extremely hard each and every day. That work yielded an astonishing 10 mph increase in his fastball, which has completed his goal…or hasn't it?

"The main thing is that I am never happy with my performance. I am such a perfectionist and always want to be perfect."

Will these pitchers reach the major leagues as Yankees or will they join the recent familiar route of being traded for veterans to "win now." Either way they both expect to be in the majors.

"Right now there is no doubt in my mind" say's Hoover.

"I know I will be there sooner or later" say's Marquez. "I give myself 2-5 years."

So do you think Marquez is confident?

"One thing I want Yankees fans to know is that once I get to the show I expect to stay there for a very long time" says Marquez.

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