This past week may have been one of the most exciting weeks for the future of baseball. Four teams called up their top prospects – The Giants called up catcher Joey Bart; the Cardinals called up outfielder Dylan Carlson; the Braves called up outfielder Cristian Pache, and the Tigers called up pitcher Casey Mize. The Marlins decided to join in on the prospects party, and announced Thursday afternoon that they are calling up their top prospect, pitching phenom Sixto Sanchez. He is currently the number twenty-seven overall prospect according to Baseball Prospectus. The Marlins need him now more than ever, as they are currently down several members of the rotation. The date of Sixto’s debut is still unclear after Thursday’s game against the Mets was postponed, but it should come at some point this weekend.
Acquired last off season in the JT Realmuto deal, Sixto has already garnered comparisons to Pedro Martinez. A big part of this is his pitch mix. The big three things Pedro was known for was his electric arm, his devastating changeup, and elite control. Sixto has all three things. His fastball in the minors sat between 95-99, although he is been throwing in the triple digits during summer camp. Teammate Miguel Rojas said that he would throw in the hundreds against the players trying to get back in shape after the team outbreak, and that Sixto clearly valued those at-bats. Coincidentally, Sixto’s best secondary pitch is his changeup. He also has the control to be elite, and to quote his scouting report, “Sanchez’s combination of stuff and command belongs in the discussion of the best among pitching prospects.” If everything goes well, we will primarily only refer to this prospect as Sixto, just like how Pedro is known as Pedro.
Miggy Ro had slightly tempered expectations for the future ace of the Marlins. In the same quote about how Sixto has been throwing his best stuff against the major league players, Rojas compared Sixto to Johnny Cueto. If Sixto has a similar career to that of Cueto’s, Marlins’ fans should be super happy and consider the Realmuto deal a success.
While comparisons to big league players can help paint expectations for a prospect, scouting grades and minor league stats play a bigger role in evaluating a call-up. As mentioned above, Sixto has an electric arm which is highlighted by his fastball. On the scouting scale, which is from 20 to 80, Sixto’s fastball scored a 75. Meanwhile, both his changeup and curveball scored a 55 grade and his control registered a 60 grade. A good comparison in terms of scouting grades is fellow fireballer Noah Syndergaard, whose scouting grades were a 75 fastball, 60 curve, 55 changeup, and 65 control.
These scouting grades led to other-worldly minor league stats. In 335.1 innings across A and AA ball, Sixto pitched to a 2.58 ERA, while striking out 294 batters. He also had a 1.02 WHIP during his time in the minors. To explain how ridiculous this is, Max Scherzer had the seventh-best WHIP last year at 1.027. This will surely regress for Sixto, but based on his success in the minors, he can threaten to be top-15 in both WHIP and ERA every year in the big leagues. Sixto also somehow got even better when he moved from A to AA, where he pitched almost the entire 2019 season. In 18 starts in AA last year, Sixto racked up 103 innings and struck out 97. He had his minor league ERA drop, since he pitched to the tune of a 2.53 ERA to go along with a 1.03 WHIP. In addition to this, his FIP was an insanely low 2.69 and his xFIP was 2.92. Sixto also benefits from the fact that he doesn’t walk many batters, at 1.66 walks per nine innings in AA, and from the fact that he had only a 5.6% home run to fly ball ratio.
There is no question about it. Sixto Sanchez is the ace of the Marlins future, and the Marlins can surely use his arm now to get back on the winning side of the record column. And if the lofty comparisons, high scouting grades, and unreal minor league stats weren’t enough to convince you why not just Marlins fans, but baseball fans as a whole, should be excited, maybe this two minute clip of Sixto being filthy might:
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