School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Class: Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-3; Weight: 205
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: After two impressive stints in the Cajuns’ rotation – both of which were marred a touch of poor luck – Head Coach Tony Robichaux pushed the hard-throwing right-hander into a fulltime relief role this season. And he’s simply been unhittable. Marks, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound hurler out of Lafayette, Louisiana, began his collegiate career on a high note. Working between the school’s rotation and bullpen, he posted a 68-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio while going 6-1 with a save in 66.2 aggregate innings.
Marks followed that up with a similar season during his sophomore campaign: in a career-high 15 starts, he threw 76.0 innings with an 80-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio – though an unlucky 4.50 ERA marred his actual dominance.
This season, his first time acting as the team’s fulltime closer, Marks has been absolutely absurd: he’s struck out 100 and walked 25 en route to tallying a 2.28 ERA.
Projection: Just to put his dominance into perspective, consider the following little tidbits:
- Only one pitcher – Jacob Lindgren – at any level of college baseball has struck out at least 100 hitters in fewer than 60.0 innings since 2011. Lindgren, by the way, was second round pick of the Yankees, 55th overall, in 2014.
- Marks’ K-rate this season, 15.17 K/9, easily led all Division I baseball.
- Since 2011, there’s been only two other pitchers – at any collegiate level – to average more than 15.0 punch outs every nine innings: Lindgren and former Michigan State closer Dakota Mekkes.
As good as Marks has been working out of the pen this season, he still deserves a chance to develop into a starting pitcher. His combined numbers his previous two seasons – 142.2 innings of work, 148 strikeouts, and just 39 walks – suggest that he may have the ceiling as a nice mid-rotation ceiling. The long ball at various points has plagued him throughout his collegiate career, so he’s going to have to do a better job pitching down in the zone – or avoid the middle of the plate. If he’s drafted solely as a relief pitcher, Marks has the chance to move quickly through the minor leagues. He’s likely to hear his name called at some point in the early to middle of the second round.
Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player
Floor: 1.0- to 1.5-win player
Risk: Moderate to High
Grade: Second Round