In 2015, Sanchez signed with the Phillies (see Transactions below).
Sixto originally trained in the Dominican Republic as a shortstop, but his arm was better than his bat, so he moved to the mound. At a tryout for a Cuban catcher, the Phillies were instead drawn to Sanchez, an eligible 16-year-old pitcher who had quick, easy arm action and a fastball that reached the low 90s.
One day, back in 2015, the Phillies held a tryout for a Cuban catcher named Lednier Ricardo at their Dominican academy in Boca Chica. Sanchez was there to throw batting practice to Ricardo, but the Phillies liked Sixto's easy velocity and passed on the Cuban backstop.
A couple days later, Sanchez—who was just 16 years old—got the news.
"The Phillies called my father,” Sanchez said. "My father was laughing.”
Sanchez’s father was joyous because his son was offered—and quickly accepted—a $35,000 bonus, which goes a long way in the Dominican Republic.
Sanchez, who has four sisters and three brothers, quickly made his family even prouder by dominating Rookie-level Gulf Coast League competition in his U.S. debut in 2016. He shot to No. 5 on the Phillies' prospect ranking that offseason.
Phillies special assistant Bart Braun was at a workout in the Dominican Republic to scout a Cuban catcher. The player who caught his eye was Sanchez, the 16-year-old pitcher throwing to him, so the Phillies moved quickly to sign him -- for $35,000, via scout Carlos Salas.
In 2016, Sixto claimed the ERA title (0.50 ERA and only 4 runs in 11 starts) for the Gulf Coast League in 2016. And after that, he finished off his season with seven scoreless innings in the GCL playoffs.
In 2017, Baseball America rated Sanchez as the 5th-best prospect in the Phillies farm system. They had Sixto at second-best prospect, behind only J.P. Crawford, in the spring of 2018. And in the winter before 2019 spring camps opened, Sanchez was the #1 prospect in the Phillies organization, then stayed number one in the spring of 2020.
After moving to the Marlins, he was their #1 prospect in the offseason before 2021 spring training.
July 2019: Sixto represented the Marlins at the Futures All-Star Game. He was also named MVP for Jacksonville.
2019 Season: Sanchez (the Marlins’ No. 1 prospect, and No. 23 overall, per MLB Pipeline) received the Double-A Jacksonville Most Valuable Player Award.
Sanchez, acquired from the Phillies in February as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade, completed his first season in the Marlins organization, and the hard-throwing righty showed he was healthy after a right elbow issue limited him in 2018. The 21-year-old was 8-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 18 starts for Jacksonville, and he added two more starts at Jupiter. Overall, he was 8-6 with a 2.76 ERA in 20 starts and struck out 103 and walked 21 in 114 innings.
Jan 13, 2020: No player currently on the Marlins’ 40-man roster has been assigned the No. 45. The organization just may be holding the number for when top prospect Sixto Sanchez is ready to reach the big leagues. To sport 45 on the back of his jersey would be special for Sanchez, because that’s the number Pedro Martinez, his childhood idol, wore. Like so many pitchers born in the Dominican Republic, Sanchez was raised admiring Martinez, the Hall of Fame right-hander and personable baseball figure who continues to be in the public eye as a TV analyst.
“Since I was little, I’ve admired him, seeing all his games,” Sanchez said in Spanish. “I always said, ‘Wow, I want to be like him.'"
Sanchez spoke to MLB.com at MLB’s annual Rookie Career Development Program, held in Miami. The right-hander is one of the top pitching prospects in the game, and he is tracking toward reaching the big leagues in 2020.
When it comes to his main goal this year, Sanchez makes his intentions clear: “To keep working hard and to be able to get to the big leagues.”
Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Marlins’ No. 1 prospect, and No. 22 on the overall Top 100 list, Sanchez will be one of Miami’s most closely monitored players when Spring Training opens on Feb. 12 at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Sanchez is a hard-throwing right-hander with a fastball that routinely reaches 100 mph. The 21-year-old is already on Miami’s 40-man roster, and he’s been assigned No. 73 for Spring Training. Players who have yet to reach the big leagues often have high numbers in Spring Training before they make it.
But when Sanchez does reach Miami, he can request another number. And since 45 is not already taken, it’s safe to assume it may be reserved for the Marlins’ top prospect. Still, the right-hander may have to wait a little while. (J Frisaro - MLB.com - Jan 13, 2020)
MLB debut - Aug. 23, 2020: At 7:50 p.m. ET, Marlins top prospect Sixto Sánchez fired his first MLB pitch, a blazing 98.4 mph fastball taken for a strike by Trea Turner. It marked what many believe will be the beginning of a promising career.
For a first impression, Sánchez came as advertised, bringing heat -- five pitches touched or topped 100 mph -- while striking out four in five innings in the Marlins’ 5-3 victory over the Nationals in Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader at Nationals Park.
“It was everything I expected this to be,” Sánchez said through an interpreter. “I've worked so hard for this day to come, and it was actually what I expected. My confidence grew a lot after I threw my first pitch. I thought I was going to throw a ball, but I threw a strike. After that, it was good.” (Joe Frisaro)
2020 Season: To be clear, Sixto Sanchez would rank first on any list other than Rookie of the Year. In my mind, he is the best NL rookie, the most dominant, and has the brightest future. The only thing standing in this way of the ROY trophy is his comparatively low volume.
Sanchez holds a 3-2 record and a 3.46 ERA over six starts. He also chipped in a tidy 33 strikeouts over just 39 innings of work. Beyond his phenomenal counting stats lies a player with obvious talent and electric stuff. His pitch speed and control immediately jump out when you watch him toe the rubber.
His talent is so obvious that it caused Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez to states that Sanchez is “like a mini-me with better stuff.” It appears as though the young stud has a real chance to become the Miami equivalent of Jacob deGrom. (Allen Settle)
Feb. 22, 2021: After a slight delay in his return from the Dominican Republic, Marlins top prospect Sixto Sánchez is back in Jupiter, Fla., and eager to get underway. He’s also wearing the uniform number he’s long desired: the No. 45 worn by his childhood hero, Pedro Martínez.
“It means a lot,” said Sánchez on Monday of the number change. He wore the No. 73 that he was issued by the Marlins last spring throughout his dynamic rookie season, but he had his sights set on the No. 45 revered by many Dominican players. Sánchez, a native of San Cristobal, is also sporting a new tattoo on his right leg this spring, featuring the same No. 45 as the tattoo on his neck. “Since I was little, I used to watch Pedro pitch. I want to accomplish many of the things that he did.” (Matt Kelly)
February 20, 2015: Sanchez signed as a free agent with the Phillies, out of the D.R., via scout Carlos Salas. His bonus was only $35,000, via scout Carlos Salas.
- Feb. 7, 2019: Philly made a big splash by acquiring Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto in exchange for top prospect Sixto Sanchez, catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospect Will Stewart, and $250,000 international slot money.
|Home:||N/A||Team:||MARLINS - IL|
|Birth City:||San Cristobal, D.R.|
|Draft:||2015 - Phillies - Free agent - Out of the D.R.|
Sanchez has good command of his very lively 93-101 mph FASTBALL, generating weak contact for a 70 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. He also has a 55 grade 88-90 mph power SLIDER with two-plane tilt that misses both left- and righthanded bats and is a 55 grade. He also has a 50 grade 93-98 mph 2-seams SINKER with deep drop. And his CHANGEUP runs away from lefty hitters, sinking beneath their bats with impressive downer drop, flashing 70, on the 20-80 scale. He sells that change with the same arm speed as his heater.
Sanchez utilizes both two- and four-seam fastballs, with the former having power sink and the latter frequently climbing into triple digits with riding action. His well above-average changeup was his most effective pitch in his first taste of the Majors. He added a cutter during alternate camp and will mix in an occasional curveball, both of which show flashes of becoming plus offerings.
Few pitching prospects can match Sanchez's combination of stuff and command. He's short but has a strong frame and an easy, repeatable delivery that has led to him average 1.8 walks per nine innings in his first six pro seasons. The only knock on him is that he doesn't miss as many bats as his arsenal suggests he should, yet he pounds the strike zone, elicits a lot of weak contact and could become Miami's first true ace since the late Jose Fernandez. (Spring 2021)
Sixto is an advanced strike-thrower with a smooth, clean delivery who pitches with a quick yet composed pace. Injury concerns about his elbow have quieted, and he exhibited some of the same plus or better control he did in the minors during his first major league season.
Consistency will be key for Sanchez, who struck out 8.2 and walked 1.4 per nine innings during his first five starts and a 3-to-1 strikeout-towalk ratio overall. Those numbers somewhat masked a tough finish to the 2020 season during which he allowed nine earned runs in seven innings, with six walks and four strikeouts.
Sanchez's combination of stuff and command belongs in the discussion of the best among pitching prospects. His fastballs feature a two-seamer that produces power sink and a four-seamer that climbs into triple digits. His best secondary offering is a changeup that dives at the plate, and he also has good feel for manipulating a hard slider that can be a plus pitch at times. (Andre Fernandez - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)
Sanchez has pounded the strike zone ever since he entered pro ball, displaying an easy, repeatable delivery that helps diminish concerns about durability despite his smaller frame. While he hasn't missed as many bats as his stuff suggests he should, he posted a 4.6 K/BB ratio and a 1.4 groundout/airout ratio in his first five Minor League seasons. As long as he stays healthy, he has the ingredients to become Miami's best starter since the late Jose Fernandez. (Spring 2020)
Some scouts worry about Sanchez’s stuff holding up as a starter because of his size; other scouts don’t because of his athleticism. He has 60 grade control.
Sixto has a relatively clean, smooth delivery -- easy and athletic.
Sixto has advanced pitch-ability that allowed him to toy with lesser hitters while saving his focus for the middle of the order and big situations.
Sixto is athletic and in control. He has such "easy heat." He doesn't have to have his arms and legs flailing to distract hitters via deception and muscle the ball to the plate. And that allows him to command the ball well.
It is just very rare to see such a young pitcher who combines exceptional velocity along with advanced control and impressive command. He gets a 70 grade for his command.
Sanchez is one of the hardest-throwing starting pitchers in the minors, but you wouldn’t know it from his delivery. He has easy, fluid mechanics that he repeats consistently. He is gaining a understanding of how to sequence hitters. (Spring 2019)
Sixto is a smallish righthander with impressive command for such a young guy. And he can pitch to all four quadrants of the strike zone.
Hitters just don't seem to make much solid contact off Sanchez. You have to marvel at the ease with which he generates power from his textbook delivery. Similarly, his ability to command his power fastball is impressive. He has a loose, quick arm.
“He’s got a tremendous arm,” Philles minor league pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves said. “His fastball is 96-99 (mph) and he can change speeds.”
Sanchez’s poise and mound presence are that of a veteran pitcher, not someone who moved from shortstop to the mound in 2014.
“His feel for pitching is amazing,” Chaves said. “The poise he showed and how he dominated the league this summer was impressive.” (Spring, 2017)
Sanchez has a shot at being a #1 or #2 starter in MLB. He gets some comparisons to the Yankees Luis Severino. He just needs to show he can handle a starters' workload.
2018 Season: Sanchez has one of the most electric arms of any pitching prospect in baseball, with the chance to have three above-average to plus pitches when all is said and done. But his climb to the top of the pitching prospect rankings was slowed by elbow inflammation in 2018, limiting him to just 46.2 innings. Sanchez did not pitch after June 3.
Sixto has a very impressive right arm.
"He has uber-weapons,” Jacksonville manager Kevin Randel said. "He has an electric arm—fastball, slider and changeup, all for strikes, superb control. He’s poised beyond his years.”
Sanchez reached at least 99.6 mph on five of the eight fastballs he threw at the 2019 Futures Game in Cleveland this year. His average fastball velocity of 99.3 mph was second-best at the event.
"No moment is too big for him,” Randel said. "He loves the spotlight."
2019 Season: Sixto Sanchez, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 22). Sanchez reached Double-A and threw a career-high 114 innings (with 103 strikeouts) in the 2019 season. 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.
Jan. 14, 2020: Sanchez was named one of the top 10 MLB pitching prospects entering the season. His best pitch is his change-up which he developed as a teenager. He is also noted for his control. It is one of the reasons he reached Double-A at age 20.
- 2020 Improvements: Sixto Sanchez is throwing off the mound, showing off his usual triple-digit fastballs — both a four-seamer and a sinker — to go along with his above-average changeup as he faces some of the Miami Marlins’ top hitting prospects at their alternate training site in Jupiter.
Another pitch is in the works to round out his arsenal.
Sanchez, the Marlins’ top prospect and the No. 22 overall prospect across MLB according to MLBPipeline, said Sunday he has started to throw a curveball instead of his slider over the past few weeks since team practices resumed. (JORDAN MCPHERSON - JULY 19, 2020)
Aug 28, 2020:“He was really good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Sánchez. “He was kind of in control all night. Used his changeup a lot. Was able to elevate. He gives you seven innings of scoreless.
“That was some impressive stuff,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Sánchez. “He was able to land his offspeed pitches. He established the fastball and he had a wipeout changeup. He is pretty talented.”
According to Statcast, Sánchez’s maximum fastball velocity was 100.6 mph, and he had 13 pitches at 99 mph or higher. Of his 92 pitches, 17 were swinging strikes, with eight coming on his changeup. (J Frisaro - MLB.com - Aug 28, 2020)
2020 Season: After being lights out in the minors during his first year as a Marlin in 2019, Sánchez came up from the alternate training site and started his first MLB game on August 22. Through five innings against the Nationals that start, he allowed six hits and three earned runs, including two home runs. Imperfect yet encouraging due to the quality of his stuff.
But right after that, he shined with seven scoreless frames of six hits, only one walk, and 10 punchouts vs. the Rays. In fact, from August 28 to September 13, he cruised with 27 frames, in which he surrendered 18 hits and three total runs, along with five bases on balls and 25 strikeouts (1.00 ERA, .494 OPS).
Sixto dominated. He did struggle in some of his outings, but advanced statistics show he’s real. The Dominican righty registers better-than-average numbers in exit velocity (87.8 MPH), launch angle (4.3º), and BB% (7.0). One of the things I liked most about his 2020 performance was his ground ball percentage: 58.0% (league average is 45.3). Keeping balls in the infield and preventing hard contact suggests he should have a lower BABIP than his rookie season .303 mark.
Regarding his repertoire, Sánchez proved that his four-seam fastball and his changeup can both be plus pitches. The former (23.8% usage) led to a .217 batting average and even though it generated a .565 slugging percentage, it helped to make his changeup even more successful. This latter pitch gave Sixto great results, with opponents batting 8-for-54—all singles—and 18 of his 33 strikeouts (55%).
Sixto had notable success against lefties: .232/.270/.261 slash line in 74 plate appearances. Only two of his 16 hits allowed were extra-base hits (two doubles).According to Baseball-Reference, opponents hit for a .125 average on fly balls off Sánchez (three singles in 24 at-bats).If you remove his two starts against the Nationals (9 IP, 14 H, 8 ER), his ERA was 2.10 across 30 frames.
High Points: Throwing seven scoreless and punching out 10 vs. the Rays on August 28; six shutout innings of three hits and six strikeouts at Atlanta on September 8; five scoreless against the Cubs in the NLWC on October 2
Recently, Don Mattingly announced that Sandy Alcántara, Pablo López, and Elieser Hernández are the only three pitchers to have a secured spot in next year’s Opening Day starting rotation. He added youngsters Sánchez and Trevor Rogers have to earn their way in.
Sánchez, who won’t turn 23 until July 29, will need to report to spring training in better shape than he did in 2020. It’ll be crucial for him to have a good showing in camp during exhibition games. Even that may not be enough—expect the Marlins to conservatively manage his workload considering that his career-high workload for a single season is only 114 innings pitched.
In 2021, Sánchez will be one of the most exciting figures on the Marlins. It’s true he’ll need to battle to earn a rotation spot, but he can finish the regular season as the Marlins unquestionable ace. It all depends on how a more mature Sánchez can perform throughout a full season—it’s up to him! (Juan Páez - Nov 1, 2020)
2020 Season: Repertoire: 26.7% Changeup, 24% Sinker, 13.8% 4-Seam Fastball, 17.2% Slider, 8.4% Curveball
Coming over from Philly in the JT Realmuto trade, Sánchez carried some nice prospect pedigree. He delivered on that in 2020 for the Marlins, getting the call towards the end of August and delivering very promising results across 7 starts. This included a stellar performance against the deep Tampa Bay Rays lineup on August 28th, in which he threw 7 scoreless to go along with 10 punch outs. All of that in just his 2nd major league start.
Going forward, there’s a lot to like for Sixto. He mixes in 5 different pitches headlined by an excellent changeup that he leans on the most. His fastball sits at a very nice 98.5 MPH on average, but unfortunately it was his worst pitch in his brief stint. Both barrel % (33.3%) and hard hit rate (60%) were both quite unsightly so he’ll need to harness more on it than just elite velocity for it to become an effective pitch. Still, the offspeed stuff is there and Sanchez can make it work despite the fastball woes.
For 2021 drafts, Sánchez took a bit of a stock hit towards the end of the season. In his last two starts he gave up 5 runs in 4 innings against Washington and followed that up with 4 runs in only 3 innings against Atlanta. Those 2 starts ballooned his ERA up from 1.69 to 3.46. While this isn’t a crazy swing given Sanchez’s low IP, the more middling ERA coupled with Sánchez’s inability to effectively throw his fastball will take a toll on his draft price. He’ll also need to improve his strikeout rate to gain relevance, as his 7.62 K/9 was below average in 2020. Look for Sánchez in the mid to late rounds where he can be a value as a SP3 or 4 with a chance to push into the top-30 SP by year’s end. (Matt Wallach - Jan. 20, 2021)
2020 Top International Prospect - Marlins: Sixto Sánchez, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 19)
The Phillies discovered Sánchez in the Dominican Republic while attending a workout for a Cuban catcher in February 2015 and signed him, then used him as the key piece in the J.T. Realmuto trade four years later. He impressed in his first taste of the Majors in 2020, allowing just five runs in his first six starts and blanking the Cubs for five innings in the Wild Card Series, frequently reaching triple digits with his fastball and confounding hitters with his changeup. (J Callis - MLB.com - Jan 12, 2021)
2020 Season: Marlins manager Don Mattingly had very little to nitpick about Sánchez’s first campaign, telling reporters that the hyped-up righty “came as advertised” with an electric upper-90s fastball and dastardly changeup. Perhaps his one blemish was how he fared in his final two regular-season outings against the Nationals and Braves -- two teams that were seeing Sánchez for a second time in the span of a few weeks -- in which he gave up a combined nine earned runs across seven innings.
One way to fix that issue? Encouraging Sánchez to stick to his considerable strengths, according to Mattingly.“Last year it seemed like he played off one game to the next instead of just staying with how he wanted to attack guys,” Mattingly said of Sánchez. “If they jumped his fastball the first game, he might have gone with earlier offspeed the next time and not throw as many fastballs, instead of just attacking with the way he wanted to attack the guys.” Sánchez’s postseason gem against the Cubs might hint at what Mattingly would like to see him do more. Facing a Chicago club that struggled mightily against elite velocity all season, Sánchez let his fastballs eat and went with them on 80 percent of his pitches, racking up six strikeouts and holding the North Siders to four hits.
Sánchez hasn’t yet thrown his first bullpen session after arriving to camp and going through the COVID-19 intake protocols, but he already knows the pitch he wants to attack and improve upon this spring: the high heater. Sánchez’s 97.6-mph average fastball velocity (combined four-seamers and sinkers) ranked third-best out of 160 starters that threw at least 500 fastballs last year, and hitters went 4-for-17 (.235) with seven strikeouts, per Statcast, when he placed those high-octane heaters in the upper-third of the strike zone and above. Sánchez recognizes that pitch could be extremely difficult for hitters to handle when it’s up toward their shoulders, and he wants to make it a more consistent weapon.
“It’s something that will help me to get better results,” Sánchez said. “Last year I tried to do it a lot, but this year, it’s my main focus to work on that pitch.” (M Kelly - MLB.com - Feb 22, 2021)
- 2021 Best Changeup in Top Prospects - Sixto Sánchez, RHP, Marlins (65)Though Sánchez has a two-seam fastball that sits at 95-97 mph and a four-seamer that parks at 97-99, and he also flashes a plus curveball and cutter, his most effective pitch during his strong big league debut was his changeup. It arrives in the upper 80s before dive-bombing at the plate. Major Leaguers went 8-for-54 (.148, all singles) with 18 strikeouts against his changeup.
- Sixto is a very solid fielding pitcher. He's an extra infielder when he's on the mound.
June 9, 2018: Sanchez went on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. His season was mostly shelved because of lingering tenderness in his elbow.
October 10, 2018: The Phillies hoped Sanchez, their top prospect by MLB Pipeline, could make up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League. But he was set back due to problems with his collarbone.
A Phillies source said team doctors are not concerned. Sanchez is the No. 21 prospect in baseball. He has not pitched since June because of inflammation in his right elbow. The Phillies' window to get him stretched out and ready to compete this fall did not allow for setbacks, but Sanchez recently reported soreness in his clavicle. The source said the Phillies then decided to be conservative and remove him from the AFL roster.
2019: Sanchez has recovered from the shoulder inflammation that cut short his 2018 season and delayed his 2019 campaign by one month.
April 1, 2021: - An MRI revealed mild inflammation in the back of the right shoulder of Marlins top prospect Sixto Sánchez, the club announced. The 22-year-old right-hander, who reported slight discomfort during a simulated game, was prescribed a few days rest and will then begin rehab with slow progression on a throwing program.
- July 5, 2021: Sánchez is on the IL as he’s set to undergo surgery to repair a small capsule tear in his right shoulder.
July 20, 2021: - Marlins top prospect Sixto Sánchez underwent surgery to repair a capsular tear and clean out the back side of his right shoulder, general manager Kim Ng revealed. Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the procedure in Los Angeles.
"We're hoping that he's with us on Opening Day next year," Ng said of Sánchez.