MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — By his own admission, James Marvel isn’t going to be the guy who “blows the door” off hitters. Instead, he’s just going to focus on being a pitcher.
A 26-year-old right-hander and 36th-round draft pick of the Pirates in 2015 — despite an elbow surgery that caused him to miss all but four weeks of his sophomore year and all of his junior season at Duke — Marvel said his focus throughout his minor-league journey has been on attacking the strike zone and letting the chips fall where they may.
“I pride myself on just being a pitcher, understanding the game, preparing between my starts on what I can continue to do better and preparing for the other team I’m going to face in doing scouting reports,” Marvel said before the Indians' game Saturday.
Marvel has always been calculated, and that’s where he’s found success, he said.
First drafted by the Twins out of high school, Marvel opted to instead attend Duke with the hopes of gaining a quality education and improving against college baseball players. It was a decision he said he’d never regret, despite a leg issue his freshman year and then the elbow injury.
“The things that I learned going through that long and extensive rehab process in college made me the player and person I am today,” Marvel said. “I can’t sit here and say I would be the person I am today without that process.”
He said he was even ready to take a break from baseball if that’s what it took to get his body back to form, with the hopes of earning a spot in the MLB Draft.
“To be honest, I wasn't entirely thinking of pro ball and the draft (when I got drafted). I was going day to day trying to get healthy and trying to come back,” he said. “I used it as an opportunity to grow as a person and as a player. I focused on my body and my nutrition, and got in the weight room to get stronger to put myself in the best possible position to come back.”
The Pirates took a chance on him in the 36th round in 2015, and Marvel hasn’t disappointed.
He’s worked his way up from Short-A West Virginia to Indianapolis, going 9-5 with a 3.16 ERA earlier this year with Double-A Altoona before getting the call to Triple-A Indianapolis in early July.
Those calls to the next level will never get old, he said.
“When that happens, you’re working every day to stay healthy and take the ball every fifth day for your team and go deep into ballgames while focusing on the things you can control. Then it’s incredibly exciting (to get the call),” he said. “I share it with my family, my girlfriend and those who support me every single day. I wouldn’t be here without their love and support. So, to share that is definitely a special feeling.”
Marvel has been nothing short of marvelous with the Tribe. He’s 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts. His first start saw him go seven innings, allowing no runs, no walks and just three hits while striking out six. In his latest start, he went six innings with just one hit against him, walking one batter and striking out nine.
Marvel said that success was a product of “just trusting what I already do.”
“There’s a reason that I’ve had success, so I try not to get away from what got me here. At a level like this, it’s easy to be really aggressive to the strike zone and let guys put the ball in play,” he said.
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