A Vote of Confidence: Jeff Marquez

When the Yankees selected Jeff Marquez in the 1st round of the 2004 draft, they looked at him as one of their more projectable, high reward picks. By drafting a city college 19 year old, they already had given him a vote of confidence. In the plans for 2005, there looks to be another vote of confidence for the young righty as the Yankees look for him to soar through the system.

Although the selection of Jeff Marquez seemed to come out of nowhere in 2004, the Yankees have quickly shown that they go to no limits in their player scouting. Marquez was a late bloomer at Sacramento City College and credits his development to the coaching staff there. In fact, Marquez entered the school as a 145 pound freshman who got zero attention from scouts out of high school. "Going to a good college program really helped me a lot," said Marquez. "They really helped me with my mechanics and getting stronger and helped me a lot as an all around pitcher." He made a wise choice, electing to redshirt his first year there in order to get stronger and build up for the 2004 season. It ended up being one of the best career moves a player could make. Marquez went on to have a dominating 2004 campaign and suddenly the Yankees were hot on his trail.

The Yankees drafted Marquez like someone would buy stock, when it looked to be on the rise. And, in this case, that is exactly where the Yankees felt his stock was headed. In 2004, Marquez quickly showed that he was already beyond the short season level with outstanding performances in the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League. Already with a fantastic two seam fastball, curveball and a dominating changeup, the confident righthander looks to have more tricks up his sleeve. According to the 20 year old, he is close to fully adding a four seam fastball to his repertoire that will make him "unhittable" in 2005 and beyond. Even without that pitch, he has shown to be pretty devastating already. "Honestly, the only thing I can say about Marquez is that he has one of the best changeups I have ever seen," his teammate, Jason Stephens told PinstripesPlus.com. With all these weapons and being that he was drafted seemingly under different circumstances than some of his fellow 2004 pitching draftees, do the Yankees see Marquez in a different light? From some of the latest feedback from the organization, it seems possible that the Yankees see an intriguing future for Marquez and will show that more clearly in 2005.

When Yankees Pitching Coordinator, Nardi Contreras commented on the 2004 pitching crop in his chat with PinstripesPlus.com, he had familiar words about most of his pitchers, but when it came to the young righty named Jeff Marquez, he suddenly spoke in a new kind of praise. In speaking for the organization, it seems as if the Yankees feel they have someone that is not only projectable, but confident, fearless and talented. What does this spell for the Yankees? It spells a fast moving pitcher that can be an impact pitcher in a hurry. Is he any more skilled than the other Yankee pitching draftees in 2004? Probably not, but he does fit perfectly into the mold of someone who may make stardom first. Maybe it is because of the lack of wear on his arm or simply because he is as projectable as anyone with his slender frame and live arm. Either way, the Yankees have certainly mailed in their vote of confidence. Not that he needs anyone else's confidence, he has his own. "To me, he looks like an impact type pitcher," Pitching Coordinator, Nardi Contreras told PinstripesPlus.com. "He has a good, live arm and he throws pretty hard, too. He's an athletic kid and he doesn't have a lot of wear and tear on his arm. Marquez has good sink on his fastball with a real nice curveball. But, the thing that impresses me about him is his changeup. This is a power changeup and I think that is the difference maker between him and other pitchers in the system. He has excellent command of all his pitches. The big thing we worked on with him down here was something mechanical. His mechanics are pretty sound but he rushes out in his delivery sometimes. I think we were able to straighten that out though. I really think he is going to be an outstanding pitcher in this organization. He may be the best one out of this young group of pitchers. Again, he was a great pick by the Yankees."

Now, we know just how confident the Yankees are in his skills. But, what are they going to do about it. When asked who would make the biggest organizational leap in 2005, Nardi Contreras had this to say. "I'd have to say Jeff Marquez, actually. I think he is going to be in the Tampa Yankees rotation. Marquez just has the look of a real fast mover in this system and just a very good pitcher. He is the type of guy that would fit right in there with that changeup he has. He has three established pitches and he is a really determined kid. He pushes hard to move to the next level and I think he'll be pitching in their rotation come 2005. He just showed us a lot when he came to mini-camp this year. He held up nicely health wise for a first year player and showed that he made the necessary adjustments when he needed to. If he shows more of that in Spring Training next year, I think he'll be in Tampa to start the season."

Whatever it is that the Yankees love about Jeff Marquez, (there are a lot of choices) it has given them an indication that if anyone can handle a big leap through the organization it is him. His advanced changeup helps his cause considering that Nardi Contreras has long been known to be one the of the biggest proponents of location and command of the changeup and good movement on the fastball. But, perhaps it is his fearless attitude and confidence in himself in general that helps Marquez to push his way through. It was expected that the 20 year old would start his season in low A Charleston in 2005, but the plans may have changed with the emergence of comments that have him headed to High A Tampa to start the season. Whether that comes to pass or not remains to be seen, but it doesn't change how the Yankees feel about him. And, for anyone not on the Jeff Marquez boat yet, here is his vote of confidence. "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."

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