The Detroit Tigers today announced today they have signed infield prospect Diego Márquez. Márquez, a native of Colombia, is known for his speed, defense, and versatility. The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.
"We've had our eye on Márquez for quite some time now", said Tigers Director of Amateur Scouting David Chadd. "We know he's really, really young, but he's been a real target for us. Everyone we've talked to has raved about his skills. We know he's very raw and a bit undersized, but he's got a lot of time for his body to fill in, we think he'll add some strength."
Brian Silverman, editor of ProspectWatch.com, compares Márquez to Houston second baseman Jose Altuve. "Diego has all the potential in the world. His speed and defense are major league ready. He's got some work to do with the bat, but that will come. Plus, he already speaks Spanish and English fluently, which should help his transition to the states."
"I'm thrilled to have a chance to play for the Tigers," says Márquez via email, " Coincidentally, tigers have already been a part of my life. I visited India recently and helped with tiger conservation efforts there"
Evaluating Márquez has been a bit of a challenge for the scouting community. In the off-season Diego lives with his family in a remote part of the Colombian rainforest. Diego's father Ernesto has been an animal researcher for the International Wildlife Protection Society for over 25 years. The organization seeks to rescue animals in trouble.
"The rainforest feels like home in the off-season. Sure, when I play ball I'm completely focused on baseball, but when I'm home I do as much as I can to rescue animals," says the speedy infielder.
Diego's agent Chris Gifferd raves about his client, "Diego has it all: speed, passion, resourcefulness. He's proven over and over again he can get the job done. We didn't know if was ready to leave the Animal Rescue Center, but when I talked to his older sister Alicia I knew we had a chance to get him to come stateside."
Márquez feels he is ready to make the jump, "I just feel I can do a lot of good in the United States too. There are many animal rescue centers where I can volunteer my time. Plus, I'll be able to spend some quality time with my cousin Dora"
"We know it is unusual to sign a prospect as young as eight," says Chadd, "But with Diego we felt he was worth it. He's very special child. This rough and tough adventurer is working all the time. The kid can really go."
Diego is expected arrive in Lakeland this week to participate in extended spring training workouts.
"I'm really eager to meet my new teammates and coaches. Right after I signed the contract I packed my orange transforming rescue pack with all my gear. I'm ready go. I just hope they won't have an issue with me keeping my baby jaguar in camp"
Diego Márquez drives the ball during a recent batting practice session.