Marquez Believes His Curveball Has Gotten Better
We sat down with Charleston Riverdogs' starting right-handed pitcher Jeff Marquez for a Q&A session to talk about his 2005 season, what improvements did he think he made, what his specific goals are for the 2006 season, which Yankees' prospects have impressed him the most, and much, much more.
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PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about your first full professional season. How did it go?
Jeff Marquez: It was a lot of fun. It started off rough for me, so I was a little depressed at first. I was glad I ended the season strong and I remained healthy all year. That was my main goal for this past season. I was very happy overall.
PinstripesPlus: What improvements do you think you made to your game this past season?
Marquez: I think my curveball has gotten a lot better. I'm also staying focused a lot more. I'm throwing later in the games too. Towards the end of the year I was in control and I kept my poise. That was big for me this past season.
PinstripesPlus: You have worked with Nardi Contreras for a full year now. What are your thoughts about working with him?
Marquez: He is an awesome guy to work with. He's really big on the dry side, going over your mechanics step by step without the ball to refine your pitching. You just listen to everything he tells you because he really knows his stuff. You know you can do all the things he tells you to improve your game and it [working with Nardi] is really working out for me.
PinstripesPlus: With your first full season behind you now, what are your goals for the 2006 season?
Marquez: I want to start off in Tampa and pitch well. If I start off good, I want to be in AA-Trenton by midseason. I want more strikeouts next season, but I keep telling myself that if I just work on being consistent, the numbers will be there. I'm shooting to have an ERA between 2.00-2.50. Those are my specific goals, but my main goal again will be to remain healthy all year.
PinstripesPlus: What specifically are you going to be working on next season?
Marquez: I just want to work on having better control with my pitches. I especially want to work on pitching from the middle-to-inside. I'm going to be working on better control of my 4-seam fastball, inside and out.
PinstripesPlus: When we spoke with Chase Wright, he mentioned that he was really impressed with how hard you were throwing later in the year. What do you attribute that to?
Marquez: I think that is because of my strength and preparation. My goal in college was to develop good work habits. I think way you pitch all year long is how you exercise and workout in between games. The way I warmed up and threw long toss stayed the same all year. I didn't let down with those. I think staying on top of your workouts is really important if you want to be good all year long.
PinstripesPlus: Which Major League pitcher would you compare your game to so our readers can get an idea of the type of pitcher you are?
Marquez: I would like to develop into a Greg Maddux type with the great control. But I guess I see myself more as a Matt Clement type right now. I've got the stuff, but not the control. Like him, sometimes I don't know where my pitches are going. That is something I'm working hard on in improving.
PinstripesPlus: Do you think you'll be adding another pitch to your repertoire in the future?
Marquez: I actually asked them [the Yankees] about adding a cutter or slider, but they don't want me messing with that right now. They want us working on the fastball, curveball, and changeup for the time being, so adding another pitch isn't something they want me working on.
PinstripesPlus: Among your Charleston teammates from this past season, who in your opinion is the pitcher with the highest upside?
Marquez: Phil Hughes, definitely. I mean, he's got the stuff and the control. All he needs is the experience. He's going to be an awesome Major League pitcher. There's no doubt in my mind. I think he's going to be a Roger Clemens type guy once he gets there.
PinstripesPlus: Who would you say is the positional player from your Charleston team that has the highest upside?
Marquez: Marcos Vechionacci. That guy is awesome. He struggled a little bit this year, but he's got so much coming to him in the future. I think the type of player he is, and with the work ethic he has, he's going to be great. I don't think his year this past season was a bad year as much as it just was a down year. He has all the tools to be a great player.
PinstripesPlus: Which one of your Charleston teammates, either a pitcher or positional player, do you think is going to be the best "sleeper" prospect? Who do you think doesn't get the attention he deserves but will fly under the radar and have a solid Major League career?
Marquez: It has to be Justin Christian. People don't look at him because he's so old, but he's going to be good in the Majors. He kind of reminds me of Ryne Sandberg, that's how good I think he is and the reason we all call him 'J Sizzle', especially when he gets on base.
PinstripesPlus: You've been through your first Spring Training with the Yankees and in the system for a little over a year now. Which one Yankees' prospect, pitcher or hitter, do you think has the highest upside?
Marquez: It has to be Eric Duncan. I mean, he's only 20 years old and he could possibly be in AAA next year. He's an unbelievable hitter. He's going to be great and now they are going to have him at first base. The Yankees love him and he's a great guy too. You know he's going to grow more and I think he's going to be amazing.
PinstripesPlus: Who do you think are the top five pitching prospects in the Yankees' farm system? You can put yourself in that group if you want
Marquez: I'd have to go with Phil Hughes, Steven White, Matt DeSalvo, Christian Garcia, and T.J. Beam. I wouldn't put myself in that group just yet.
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