Play gets underway today in the Arizona Fall League, the annual fall showcase event for some of the top prospects from each organization in Major League Baseball.
The Philadelphia Phillies were scheduled to send eight players to participate in the AFL with the Scottsdale Scorpions squad: first baseman Darick Hall, third baseman Luke Williams, shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa, outfielder Austin Listi, and pitchers Luke Leftwich, Seth McGarry, Tyler Viza, and Sixto Sanchez.
However, just yesterday the Phillies announced that Sanchez, the club’s top prospect, was being pulled out of the league. The move appears to be largely cautionary in nature.
Sanchez turned 20-years-old at the end of July. He went 4-3 with a 2.51 ERA and 1.071 WHIP this past season with the High-A Clearwater Threshers. The right-hander allowed 39 hits over 46.2 innings across eight starts with a 45/11 K:BB ratio.
He was really beginning to heat up when the Phillies shut him down due to elbow discomfort following a start on June 3. In his previous four outings, Sanchez had gone 3-1 while allowing just 15 hits over 25.2 innings with a 29/4 K:BB ratio.
Sanchez would never return, and the AFL stint was going to give him a chance to get some more innings of work in before taking a break for the winter.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia described the circumstances of his removal from the Arizona Fall League as follows:
“Sanchez was firmly on the road to recovery and getting work in the Florida Instructional League when he recently came down with soreness in his right collarbone. Team medical officials are not alarmed by the issue and they are confident that Sanchez will be fully healthy and ready to go for spring training. However, the setback cut into Sanchez’s preparation time in Florida so the team has decided to err on the side of caution and hold him out of the AFL.”
The other seven Phillies prospects will open their Fall season tonight against the Mesa Solar Sox in Scottsdale, Arizona. The six teams of the AFL are divided into two divisions. Each is slated to play a 30-game schedule which ends on November 15, with a championship game between the two division leaders on November 17.
When healthy, Sanchez combines a 70-grade fastball with fantastic control and improving curveball and changeup offerings that have led to his being rated not only the Phillies top prospect, but also one of the most exciting arms in the entire sport.
He is currently ranked as the 21st overall prospect by MLB, and the #6 right-handed pitching prospect in the game. Assuming he is healthy in the spring, you should expect Sanchez to reach Double-A next season.
Again, given health, by spring training of 2020 when he will still be just 21-years-old it is likely that he will push for a spot in the Phillies starting rotation.
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PHILLIES NATION MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:
- Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs: RHP Cole Irvin
- Double-A Reading Fightin’ Phils: LHP JoJo Romero
- High-A Clearwater Threshers: OF Jose Pujols
- Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws: RHP Zach Warren
- Short-season Williamsport Crosscutters: OF Ben Pelletier