Marcum Makes Amazing Stride in 2005

Marcum Makes Amazing Stride in 2005

The Blue Jays had several pitching prospects in 2005 that made marvelous leaps in the organization. Some began at Low Class-A teams and ended up at Double-A. Others began in the Florida State League and ended up pitching in the International League. However, only one pitcher made the jump from Double-A to the major leagues in 2005, and that was Shaun Marcum.

The right-hander was a third round selection in the 2003 draft and accelerated rapidly up the system. He had a career year this past season, and his appearance with Toronto in September capped off an amazing season.

Marcum's amazing season began with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The right-hander went 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA over his first four starts of the season. Marcum issued just two walks over those twenty-two innings, while recording twenty-two strikeouts. The amazing performance, and command continued into May when Marcum went 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA. In twenty-seven innings of work he issued seven walks with eighteen strikeouts. Marcum allowed one walk or less over his first seven starts of the season. He issued two walks in his eighth start of the year and four walks his final start with Double-A New Hampshire. Overall, Marcum went 7-1 with a 2.53 ERA at Double-A. Opponents hit .229 off Marcum, who allowed ten walks and struck out forty in fifty-three innings of work.

Marcum dominated opposing right-hand hitters during his stint with New Hampshire. In 101 at bats against him, right-handers batted .198. The right-hander also had success against left-handers, who hit .264 off him in ninety-one at bats. Perhaps his most success came with runners in scoring position. Opponents got hits just 15% of the time with a runner(s) in scoring position. The right-hander also showed success right out of the gate, posting an ERA of 1.00 in his first inning of work, while opponents hit .103 off him.

Marcum made his debut at Triple-A late in May, but did not start off well. He allowed four runs in his first start, spanning six innings. However, he issued just one walk while striking out nine in that outing. During the month of July Marcum reached a stumbling block as he allowed five runs or more in four of his five starts. He went 2-1 with an 8.28 ERA in July.

However, the 23-year-old made the necessary adjustments and dominated during the month of August. He made six starts during August and went 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA, issuing just four walks and striking out thirty batters. In 103 innings with Syracuse Marcum issued just eighteen walks and recorded ninety strikeouts.

Once again Marcum dominated in his first inning of work, as opponents hit .172 off him. Although Marcum pitched as a starter in 2005 many scouts view him as a future reliever in the major leagues.

"I certainly believe he has the makeup to be a reliable reliever" one American League scout who saw Marcum this said. "He comes in and throws strikes, what more can you ask for."

Marcum was used as a reliever during his September call up with Toronto and appeared in five games. Marcum did not issue a run in eight innings of work, as he allowed six hits, issued four walks and recorded four strikeouts. The right-hander pitched two innings in two appearances and an inning in his other two games. Perhaps his best performance came at Yankees Stadium on September 23 when he got out of the second inning after having the bases loaded and facing a 3-0 count to Gary Sheffield.

Marcum will be given a fair chance in 2005 to make the Blue Jays as a reliever, but the question remains whether or not he will be given the chance to prove himself as a major league starter.

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