As Spring Training gets underway, players all over the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues are getting back into the swing of things. Some are having a “been there, done that” sort of moment, as the newness of the experience has long since worn off.
For many of the younger prospects, however, it’s a time to hone strengths and work on weaknesses. Year to year, the most prominent prospect rankings shift and shuffle players up and down the lists.
In Surprise, Brandon Marklund is enjoying his second spring training, and it’s an exciting time for the 23-year-old righty. Marklund has seen a somewhat meteoric rise over the past year (RFR wrote about him here, here, and here), and is busily about the usual work that all pitchers have to do.
In a phone call with Marklund on Friday, he was happy to discuss how he’s feeling, as well as the areas on which he is focusing at the moment.
“It’s still early on, but I think my arm condition is the best it’s been this early before a season in years, maybe ever,” he began, relaying both his positive state of mind, as well as the way he feels, physically.
The previously-unranked Marklund now finds that he’s broken into MLB Pipeline’s Top Thirty list for Kansas City prospects, at #27. This ranking places him ahead of RHP Tyler Zuber, who is on the cusp of a regular spot in the Royals’ ‘pen; RHP Josh Staumont, who appeared in 16 games for KC in 2019; and RHP Yohanse Morel, a nineteen-year-old with a plus fastball and two secondary pitches that grade out, according to MLB.com, as average-to-plus.
While with the Legends in 2019, Marklund rarely needed anything beyond his mid-90’s fastball and a wicked breaking ball with sharp two-plane break. He finished the regular season with a sterling 0.46 ERA over 39 1/3 innings (24 appearances), striking out 44 and walking 19 while earning six saves. He followed that up with a strong performance in Lexington’s postseason, including a dominant four-inning relief stint in the championship-clinching game vs. Hickory (see Marklund vs. Josh Jung; vs. Kole Enright).
As he continues to progress, however, he knows that he’ll need a solid third option on the mound.
“I’ve been focusing on developing my change-up into a more consistent weapon, and I’m happy with the results so far,” Marklund said, adding that he’s seen more sink and run from the pitch, thus far. “I know it’s going to be a very exciting year, not only for myself, but for the Royals in general.”
With all of March still ahead of him, Marklund is simply enjoying the process, doing what he knows he can do, and trying to become better than he was before. A simple approach, and one that has brought him this far.
“Every one is eager to get better everyday, at the field, and they’re ready to push themselves,” he concluded. “It’s exciting to watch and to be apart of it.”
“That competitive edge is how championship teams are born.