DENVER -- Rockies right-hander German Marquez's cellphone tells the story, in words and motion pictures, of a rapid climb that he hopes lands him in the big leagues for good when the 2017 season starts.
Two seasons ago, while still with in the Rays' organization, Marquez would type notes from each start into his phone, and at times augment the entries with video clips. He continued last year, after he joined the Rockies in a four-player trade.
Marquez provided numerous highlights -- a standout season at Double-A Hartford (9-6, 2.85 ERA, 126 strikeouts in 135 2/3 innings) that earned him Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors, five solid starts at Triple-A Albuquerque and a promising Major League debut -- 1-1, 5.23 ERA in six games (three starts).
"Every outing I had, I kind of jot down notes about the good things and bad things that I did so I can learn from it and kind of utilize that moving forward," Marquez said in Spanish through his agent, Daniel Szew. "At the end of the season, I check everything, but I also study video of other pitchers that remind me of myself to see how they attack hitters and try to learn from them as well."
Now Marquez, who turns 22 on Feb. 22, hopes to have a cellphone full of Major League highlights in 2017. Barring injury or other change in the Rockies' situation, Marquez, the Rockies' No. 5 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com -- is part of the competition for one open spot in the pitching rotation.
Also vying are some other highly regarded former first-round MLB Draft picks -- righty Jeff Hoffman (the No. 2 prospect), who also debuted last season, and lefty Kyle Freeland (No. 7), who spent last season at Albuquerque -- and veteran swingman Chris Rusin, who spent most of last year in the bullpen but will come to Spring Training stretched out and ready to start. Even if the Rockies add a starter via trade or a free-agent Major or Minor League signing, Marquez will find himself with a chance to earn a role with the big club.
To prepare, Marquez has turned down an invitation to pitch for his home country, Venezuela, in the World Baseball Classic. Instead he will head to the Rockies' complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., about three weeks before the initial pitcher-catcher workout on Feb. 14.
"I'm going to go 100 percent in Spring Training," said Marquez, who joined the Rockies with lefty reliever Jake McGee in the trade that sent outfielder Corey Dickerson and infielder Kevin Padlo to the Rays on Jan. 28, 2016. "I wanted to go to the Classic, too, but I want to fight for the five-man rotation.
Marquez's debut, against the Padres on Sept. 8, was a nervous relief appearance -- he hadn't thrown out of the bullpen since a Class A Advanced game for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in August 2015 -- during which he gave up three runs on two hits and an uncharacteristic three walks in 2 1/3 innings. But he calmed down to toss two scoreless relief appearances.
In his first start, he held the Cardinals to one run and four hits in five innings of his first Major League win, an 11-1 Rockies victory on Sept. 21 at Coors Field. The Giants tagged him for 12 hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings of a 12-3 road loss on Sept. 27, but he pitched far better in a no-decision in the season finale against the Brewers -- six innings, six hits, two runs and seven strikeouts -- on Oct. 2.
Marquez's hallmark was easy power -- a four-seam fastball that topped out at 96.9 mph during a relief appearance but usually sat around 94.5 mph. He doesn't have the long fingers like many pitchers, but his wide-shouldered, 6-foot-1 frame naturally produces power. Marquez did not have a personal tutor growing up, but he displayed enough talent that he drew the eye of Venezuelan scout Mario Gonzalez -- whose son, Marwin Gonzalez, is an Astros infielder. From there, the Rays ended up signing him.
Marquez offsets his fastball with his curve (79 mph) and changeup (83 mph). His fastball and curve were mostly responsible for a 54.9 percent Major League groundball rate that he can add to if he completes his offseason homework assignment.
"I need to work a little bit more on my changeup, and then the pitching coaches want me to work a little bit more on my slider, so I might start utilizing that if I get comfortable with it," said Marquez, who said he has not used a slider but had thrown a limited number of two-seam sinking fastballs."