Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins top prospect Sixto Sanchez faces live batters ahead of season debut

Jeter: “When you compete, you’re competing to win”

"When you compete, you're competing to win", said Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter during a press conference at Marlins Park the day before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training
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"When you compete, you're competing to win", said Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter during a press conference at Marlins Park the day before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training

Sixto Sanchez pumped his right hand into his glove in excitement Thursday as he walked off the mound on a backfield at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium Complex in Jupiter.

The Miami Marlins’ top prospect and the No. 26 overall prospect in MLB according to MLBPipeline just finished off a two-inning performance in an extended spring training intrasquad game — his first live game experience since being traded to the Marlins from the Philadelphia Phillies in February as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade — in one of his final tuneups before making his organizational debut with Double A Jacksonville on May 2.

Sanchez previously threw a live batting practice session during the weekend, but Thursday was his first time throwing in a game-type setting since arriving in Jupiter.

“I’m very grateful and I’m very excited,” Sanchez said afterward through an interpreter. “[I’m] ready for what’s coming up in the next couple weeks.”

The Marlins have taken a cautious approach during the past couple months with Sanchez, whose 2018 season was limited because of right elbow inflammation. The 20-year-old right handed pitcher was limited to 46 2/3 innings in 18 starts last year in the Phillies organization. He struck out 45 batters while walking just 11 in that span.

But at his best, Sanchez has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher if he can stay healthy.

He threw 44 total pitches Thursday: 24 in the game during his two-inning appearance and two 10-pitch stints in a bullpen session afterward. His four-seam fastball touched 98 mph at one point during the game.

“Every time I go to the mound, I try to throw strikes, work on my command, stay focused,” Sanchez said. “Fastball, slider, curveball, anything I have that day.”

Sanchez is one of three players — along with catcher Jorge Alfaro and fellow pitching prospect Will Stewart — the Marlins acquired along with $250,000 in international pool money from the Phillies in exchange for Realmuto.

Stewart is off to a solid start with the Jupiter Hammerheads, the Marlins’ Advanced A affiliate, giving up just two runs while striking out 11 in 13 1/3 innings. Alfaro has a team-best .326 batting average among the Marlins’ regular starters.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.
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