If he makes the Major League roster next season, will Marlins top minor league prospect, pitcher Sixto Sanchez, win the Rookie of the Year award?
Sanchez, the centerpiece of the deal that sent J.T. Realmuto to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the start of this season, had an impressive campaign in Jacksonville, the Marlins AA affiliate in 2019. It’s expected the Sanchez will begin the season at AAA Wichita, but that doesn’t mean he will not earn a spot on the opening day roster, where the Marlins may look to shuffle their starting rotation with the hope of more consistency next year.
According to MLB.com, Sanchez may be the team’s best bet to win the Rookie of the Year award, however, there are other prospects who are looking to possibly earn a spot in the big leagues ahead of the flame-thrower. Outfielders Monte Harrison and Jesus Sanchez have a real shot at being on the 26-man roster at the end of March.
The Marlins are still willing to be patient with Sanchez. He had some elbow information when he was pitching in the Phillies organization in 2018 in Clearwater. He started out in Single-A ball before he was quickly promoted to the Jumbo Shrimp where he pitched 114 innings last year at the Double-A level. That was the most he is pitched at any time in the minors.
According to William Boor, Jonathan Mayo and Mike Rosenbaum, Sanchez, “May have the best combination of stuff and command of any pitcher in the Minors…The 21-year-old throws both a two- and four-seam fastball, can touch triple digits and also throws an above-average breaking ball and changeup.”
I have personally witnessed how dominant he can be on the mound after seeing him pitch at the baseball grounds of Jacksonville.
The Marlins figure to start the season with Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith as their No. 1 and 2 starters. Pablo Lopez figures in the mix, but there are some injury concerns. Jordan Yamamoto and Robert Dugger are also part of the group vying for a spot.
Looking at the bigger picture and who is on the cusp of cracking the Majors, Nick Neidert should be considered at the top of the list. The former Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year had a set back in Triple-A New Orleans last season with a meniscus tear but has rebounded to look sharp upon his return in the second half of 2019 and was a force in the Arizona Fall League.
The front office may also look to strengthen the back end of their rotation by signing a veteran in free agency or dealing for one through a trade this offseason.