Class A Advanced pitching coach on Sixto Sanchez: ‘He’s electric’
The pitching depth of the Miami Marlins’ farm system has never been on better display than in the past few weeks.
For about three months of the 2019 season, the Marlins only used five starting pitchers, all 27 or younger and all of whom acquitted themselves well enough to look like part of Miami’s long-term plans. In succession, three of those starters went down in June. Rookies Jordan Yamamoto and Zac Gallen, and second-year pitcher Elieser Hernandez have stepped in and all posted ERAs better than 4.00 this month.
Hernandez, who has also served in a long relief role, might be more than just organizational depth and will make his fifth start of the year Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. Gallen has looked brilliant at times in the first two outings of his career, particularly in a loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday. Yamamoto has been nothing less than a revelation with a 0.95 ERA in his first three starts despite being only Miami’s No. 18 prospect in the MLB.com rankings.
The Marlins believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Four starting pitching prospects in the organization are ranked higher than Gallen, including Sixto Sanchez, the No. 22 overall prospect in the Majors. Two others — plus Gallen, the system’s No. 9 prospect — are ranked ahead of Yamamoto.
Michael Hill held an impromptu media session Thursday before Miami closed out a three-game series against the Nationals with an 8-5 loss at Marlins Park mostly to talk about JJ Bleday, Miami’s first-round draft pick who finished his season with the Vanderbilt Commodores on Wednesday. He also ran through some of the interesting pitching prospects in the organization for updates and evaluations on their progress. Here’s what the president of baseball operations had to say:
On Class A Advanced Jupiter’s Braxton Garrett, who missed all of 2018 after having Tommy John surgery: “He’s obviously a big part of the pitching depth that we’ve been able to accumulate. I got to watch Trevor Rogers on our link this afternoon — they had a 12 o’clock game — and it was great to see him pitch deep into the game and get a nice victory, but that pertains to Braxton, all those guys. We’re just trying to give them the reps, taking the ball every fifth day, getting comfortable with the routine. It’s good to see them taking advantage of the opportunity, and they’re all pitching deep into games and putting their club in a position to win.”
On Rogers, another highly touted prospect for the Jupiter Hammerheads: “He’s so physical. To see where he was when we took him out of the draft coming out of Carlsbad, out of New Mexico — just his maturity. He’s turned into a man, which we know happens with all the young players that you sign, but just to see the physical presence, the poise, the composure and how he attacks the zone — it’s impressive. It’s part of the development process. It’s what you expect from your prospects to continue to get better, and it’s nice to see from Trevor among others, to see them making strides every day in their stride to the big leagues.”
On Sanchez, who is now with Double A Jacksonville and already exceeded his innings total from 2018: “You’re looking for that consistency, and that’s something you hear us talk about a lot. With him you want consistent health because we hadn’t really had that from him, but, as we discussed, we were able to do some clean-up with his delivery and keep him healthy, and I think that’s paramount right now: to keep him healthy, to allow him to be consistent and let his stuff play. When you evaluate him strictly on his stuff, it’s three well above-average pitches. It’s a matter of building up the endurance and the stamina that you’re going to need over the course of ultimately 160 games. From a guy in our rotation, you’re hoping for 30-plus starts. That’s what we’re building toward with Sixto and all of our minor-league starters.
“When we traded for him, we felt like there were things that we could do with him and his delivery that would free his arm up, take stress from the injury standpoint and — knock on wood — we’ve been able to do that to this point and it’s a process. Especially with young starting pitchers, you want to build them up and give them an opportunity to continue to prepare themselves for the big leagues.”
On Edward Cabrera, who earned a promotion to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp: “I hate to use a broken record, but it’s consistency. You would see him in the past and he would scatter the zone and really didn’t command his pitches well enough to go deep in games. His pitch count in the third and fourth inning of games, it’s difficult to build on that when you’re using up so many of the bullets early. The thing you see from him is he’s gotten a lot more efficient with his pitches and his stuff — similar to Sixto — is overpowering stuff, meaning he leverages the ball well. And it’s pretty impressive when you think about his full package and his pitch package, and what he’s able to to when he steps on the mound.
“When you’re tall like he is and still maturing, you have to grow into your body and grow into the ability to repeat pitches. And be consistent with your delivery and I think that’s something all of our young pitchers grow into, and as they physically mature and then mature from a development standpoint, you get that consistency.”