Former Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sánchez flashed some serious potential during his debut season in 2020. He routinely hit 100 mph with his fastball and when he was able to throw strikes consistently, opposing batters looked wildly overmatched against his stuff. Sánchez even threw a complete game against his former club and threw five scoreless innings in the 2020 Wild-Card round against the Cubs.
But ever since he struggled in a start against the Braves in the 2020 Division Series, Sánchez has yet to take the mound in a meaningful game. He missed all of 2021 after undergoing surgery to repair a small tear in his right shoulder in July. The expectation at the time was that Sánchez would be ready for the scheduled start of the 2022 season.
Craig Mish of SportsGrid, who is the most trusted Marlins reporter in the industry, revealed on Twitter Spaces on Tuesday that Sánchez is dealing with an undisclosed injury. Mish also spoke about the outlook the Marlins have on Sánchez’s future.
He’s hurt again. We can start there. It’s not the best scenario with him, but it just comes down to when you trust people that tell you things and they tell you things about the player, overwhelmingly in my history of doing this … I definitely can identify when an organization is extremely sour on a player and this is that player. Is it impossible that he can come back in 2023 or this year at some point? I don’t know. But I am not optimistic. I am sorry. I am just not optimistic. And a lot of it probably has to do with the player too. I think that the Marlins have done all they can. Really. I’ve said this before, I don’t hold the Marlins accountable. Should I hold the Marlins accountable for making that trade? Maybe. There were some red flags there when they made that trade. I’m sorry, man. I’m just not seeing it. It’s not like I’m getting people telling me that I’m wrong. I’m getting people that are giving me examples of guys who are just left for you know what and then came back five years later and all of a sudden were like “Oh they’re good again.” I think that’s what you have to hope. I think you have to hope that eventually, he’s pitching and pitching for the Marlins. If spring training was to start today and I had to guess, I would say that Sixto would not be throwing a pitch for a while again. And I don’t know exactly what’s going on or what’s wrong or exactly, but there is something going on again with him.Craig Mish on Sixto Sánchez.
The Phillies took a big swing when they traded Sánchez, catcher Jorge Alfaro and pitching prospect Will Stewart to Miami for J.T. Realmuto. Sánchez played a big role in leading the Marlins to the team’s first playoff berth since 2003, but injuries have kept him from building off his stellar debut. Alfaro struggled as a member of the Marlins and was traded to the San Diego Padres before the lockout. Realmuto signed a long-term deal with the Phillies in 2021 and has been as good as advertised. Nagging injuries and some decline with age are the main concerns going forward when it comes to Realmuto.
Of course, the Marlins would be a greater threat in the NL East if Sánchez was healthy and pitched close to the level that he was at two years ago. His injury, however, wouldn’t make or break the Marlins rotation as their organizational depth at starting pitching is an embarrassment of riches.
Ace Sandy Alcantara signed a five-year extension before the lockout and could compete for a Cy Young Award in the near future. Trevor Rogers posted a 2.64 ERA in his rookie season in 2021 and looks like a front-line starter. The Marlins also have Elieser Hernández, Pablo López, Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett and Jesús Luzardo, among others, on the 40-man roster. Some of those names could be traded when the lockout ends to address the lineup, which currently lacks the same kind of firepower.
From a Phillies perspective, it’s interesting to see how the Marlins view the Realmuto/Sánchez trade. Realmuto was reportedly not interested in an extension with Miami, but since his departure from the club, the Marlins have failed to find a suitable replacement at catcher. That led to Miami trading for former Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings before the lockout.
It’s still too early to reach a verdict on the trade. When Sánchez was drawing comparisons to Pedro Martínez, it looked like a massive mistake. Realmuto has been a key member of the Phillies’ win-now core since 2019, but the team has yet to experience any kind of meaningful success since then. Maybe the trade turns out to be a win-win for both sides. Sánchez’s career appears to be at a crossroads, but there’s still time for the 23-year-old to put it all back together when he’s healthy again.
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