Brandon Marklund joined the Auckland Tuatara as a mystery package.
Few people within the organisation had heard all that much about the young Canadian pitcher, who had just finished up hurling at the collegiate level. And when he said his fastball was consistently around or above the 90mph mark, he definitely had his skeptics.
Now, what doubt some may have had about the 22-year-old enigma has been long forgotten as Marklund has established himself as one of the most dominant relievers in the Australian Baseball League.
In 12 games out of the bullpen this season, Marklund has given up runs in only two of those and, last night, earned his first career win as the Tuatara topped the Brisbane Bandits 3-2 in extra innings.
The young reliever threw two scoreless innings with two strikeouts to close out the win, after heroics from Milwaukee Brewers outfield prospect Zach Clark and local infielder Luke Hansen got the job done both with their bats and on defence.
With his plus fastball and a devastating breaking ball, Marklund has given up just 11 hits while striking out 14 and giving up just three earned runs in his 15 innings of work.
Excuse the poorly editing of the two video. It was tough to overlap the videos at the correct area but finally found the right spot for each one to show the tunneling of a 95 mph fastball and a 83 mph slider from the same at bat! (Swung at slider) @AucklandTuatara @FlatgroundApp pic.twitter.com/faGLrV5u0N— Brandon Marklund🍁 (@bmarklund13) January 3, 2019
Marklund has been one of a number of imports who have hit their strides as the ABL season progressed. After struggling at the plate for much of the season, Clark has broken out in a big way with bat in hand.
Fellow outfield Eric Jenkins, of the Texas Rangers organisation, has been arguably the most consistent performer with the bat for the Tuatara all year, and his work on the base paths has provided an extra test for opposing defences. Former Major League Baseball star pitcher Josh Collmenter has also impressed in his starts this year.
However, the Tuatara have been susceptible to giving up big innings which have been a big part in their losing record.
They'll look to continue to work toward the .500 mark tonight when they meet Brisbane again in a doubleheader.