Fruitful Scouting Trip Yields Sixto Sanchez

Sixto Sanchez (Photo by Cliff Welch) Sixto Sanchez (Photo by Cliff Welch)

PHILADELPHIA—Just before Christmas 2014, then-Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and pro scouting director Mike Ondo sent special assistant Bart Braun to the Dominican Republic to check out a Cuban catcher.

After the workout, Braun called back to Philadelphia.

“We’re not going to sign the catcher,” Braun told Amaro and Ondo, “but we might have found a pitcher.”

That pitcher’s name is Sixto Sanchez and the righthander became one of the Phillies’ top pitching prospects in 2016.

In just his second season on the mound, the 6-foot, 180-pound converted shortstop went 5-0, 0.50 in 11 starts in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, giving up just three earned runs in 54 innings. He allowed 33 hits, struck out 44 and walked just eight.

Sanchez followed up that performance with seven shutout innings in beating the Braves in the GCL semifinals. International scouting director Sal Agostinelli was at the game.

“A tremendous performance,” Agostinelli said. “Not one fastball was under 95 (mph). And it’s an easy, almost effortless 95. His slider was 88-90 (mph). No walks. He’s special.”

Those who have watched Sanchez marvel at the ease with which he generates power from his textbook delivery. Similarly, his ability to command his power fastball is impressive.

“He’s got a tremendous arm,” 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 just two years ago and turned 18 in July.

“His feel for pitching is amazing,” Chaves said. “The poise he showed and how he dominated the league this summer was impressive.”

Two years ago, while pitching live batting practice to a catcher the Phillies were scouting, Sanchez caught Braun’s eye with his loose, quick arm. They signed him for $35,000.

“Sixto has some of the easiest velocity I’ve ever seen,” Braun said. “He’s so athletic and under control that he doesn’t have to come out of his body and flop around with his arms and legs to get velocity. That allows him to command the ball so well.”


• Longtime player-development staffer Greg Legg will manage Double-A Reading in 2017.

• The Phillies hired long-time Pirates scout Greg Schilz as national scouting coordinator.

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