Chicago Cubs prospect Brad Markey made just one start in his minor league career prior to his promotion to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on July 5.
Now, he is pitching like an ace.
Markey has made an immediate impact in Myrtle Beach with a 4-0 record and 1.01 ERA in six games and was named the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the month for July.
“Brad has been a pro,” Pelicans manager Mark Johnson said. “This is his first full season in professional baseball and he takes care of business. He goes about his work and plays the game the right way, he’s aggressive on the mound and he doesn’t back down. Brad is a great guy in the clubhouse and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Said Markey: “We’ve got a great clubhouse here, a great group of guys and an excellent staff. It’s an honor [to be named Cubs minor league pitcher of the month]; all the hard work is paying off.”
Before his professional career came to fruition, Markey had a long college journey that started in 2011 at Georgia Tech, where he appeared in just six games for the Yellow Jackets.
Markey then spent 2012 with Santa Fe College, a junior college, in Gainesville, Fla., where he posted a 10-4 mark with a 1.33 ERA in 14 starts. He later was drafted by the New York Mets in the 35th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, but opted to transfer to Virginia Tech.
With the Hokies, Markey went just 7-12 with a 4.81 ERA in 27 starts over two seasons but he finished his career second all-time at Virginia Tech in two categories – lowest career walks per nine innings (1.97) and career strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.30).
Markey was then drafted by Chicago in the 19th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better,” Markey said. “I had a decent college career but being in pro ball, you just learn more about how to pitch to hitters and learn their weaknesses and their strengths. I think I’m keeping the ball down a lot more than I did in college and I’m attacking hitters better so I definitely think the Cubs organization has helped me out a ton.”
Johnson had seen Markey pitch once prior to his Myrtle Beach arrival and – after Markey’s first start with the Pelicans – was further impressed by the righty hurler.
Markey allowed just one run in a then-career high six innings for a no-decision in a 3-1 loss to Winston-Salem at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark on July 7 in his Carolina League debut.
“I saw him throw once in spring training and really liked what I saw,” Johnson said. “[In his first start], it just carried over from what I saw from him in spring training and the ball comes out of his hand good. He has a good idea of his location of his pitches and has a really good presence on the mound.”
Before he became a Pelican, Markey appeared in 12 games with Low-A South Bend (Ind.) and posted a 2.48 ERA in 29 innings. Markey said it has been a pleasure to start his career in South Bend and Myrtle Beach.
“Myrtle Beach is a great place to play. This is a beautiful field and a beautiful area and I’m just happy to be here. South Bend was another great park as well; I enjoyed the fans there and the fans here are just as good,” Markey said. “[In South Bend], they have a great team and when you have a good group of guys, you just feel a lot more comfortable. The transition to Myrtle Beach was really easy and the transition to South Bend was great, too. It’s just really nice to play with such good guys.”
In South Bend, Markey was teammates with Pelicans catcher Cael Brockmeyer, who is now catching him in Myrtle Beach. Brockmeyer said he’s impressed with Markey’s stuff.
“He has definitely showed some promise and some good things,” Brockmeyer said. “He’s a guy that fills up the strike zone and he’s been making some great starts so that’s pretty good for him – and the team – to find some success.”
Joining the Pelicans, Markey wound up with a team that had already secured a playoff spot as the Pelicans won the first-half Carolina League Southern Division title. His main goal was to help Myrtle Beach continue its winning ways and has done just that.
“It just means we’re a good team, we have good hitters, good pitchers and good defense,” Markey said. “So definitely the great offense and defense will help us pitchers out; I don’t have to worry as much. I know if I allow a ground ball or pop up, they’ll get the out. Or if I give up some smoke line drives, my outfielders and infielders will make crazy plays.”
One player backing him up in the field is Pelicans outfielder Mark Zagunis, who was also Markey’s teammate at Virginia Tech.
“It’s definitely cool having him around,” Zagunis said. “Brad has done well in college and his pro career so far and I’m excited to play with him.”
Said Markey: “It’s nice to be in the clubhouse and playing with someone I was teammates with at Virginia Tech. [Zagunis] is a great guy, a great player and it’s really cool that we get to share this minor league experience with each other as well.”
Markey just wants to help the team keep rolling.
“I hope I just help us win more games or just keep us in the games longer,” he said. “As long as I can control my pitches and keep the ball down, I think we’ll have a pretty good chance on the defensive side to stay in ball games and just hand it over to my hitters and hope they can win us some more games.”