No Moment Is Too Big For Sixto Sanchez
Jacksonville manager Kevin Randel, who has been in baseball 20 years, said righthander Sixto Sanchez has the best arm he’s ever had on his team.
"He has uber-weapons,” Randel said. "He has an electric arm—fastball, slider and changeup, all for strikes, superb control. He’s poised beyond his years.”
The 21-year-old Sanchez may not be tall—he's listed at 6 feet, 200 pounds—but he brings the heat. He reached at least 99.6 mph on five of the eight fastballs he threw at the Futures Game in Cleveland this year. His average fastball velocity of 99.3 mph was second-best at the event.
"No moment is too big for him,” Randel said. "He loves the spotlight.
Through 12 starts in the Southern League, Sanchez went 5-4, 3.52 with 69 strikeouts and 14 walks in 69 innings.
Despite his mound presence, Sanchez actually came up as a shortstop. One day, back in 2015, the Phillies held a tryout for a Cuban catcher named Lednier Ricardo at their Dominican academy in Boca Chica. Sanchez was there to throw batting practice to Ricardo, but the Phillies liked Sixto's easy velocity and passed on the Cuban backstop.
A couple days later, Sanchez—who was just 16 years old—got the news.
"The Phillies called my father,” Sanchez said. "My father was laughing.”
Sanchez’s father was joyous because his son was offered—and quickly accepted—a $35,000 bonus, which goes a long way in the Dominican Republic.
Sanchez, who has four sisters and three brothers, quickly made his family even prouder by dominating Rookie-level Gulf Coast League competition in his U.S. debut in 2016. He shot to No. 5 on the Phillies' prospect ranking that offseason.
Sanchez appeared to be on his ways with the Phillies, until the Marlins acquired him in the 2019 trade that sent catcher J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia.
"I never thought they’d trade me," Sanchez said, "but I can still remember the day—Feb. 7. It was hard, but I finally realized that it happened because the Marlins wanted me.”
Sanchez has recovered from the shoulder inflammation that cut short his 2018 season and delayed his 2019 campaign by one month.
"I have no doubt he’ll be a star in the big leagues,” Randel said. "He just needs a bit more experience.”
— Righthander Humberto Mejia earned a June promotion to high Class A Jupiter. The 22-year-old Panamanian signed in September 2013 and had his entire 2014 and 2017 seasons wiped out by injury. Mejia's fastball ranges from 90-94 mph and his deceptive delivery helped him dominate in 13 appearances for low Class A Clinton.
— Triple-A New Orleans second baseman Isan Diaz went 0-for-3 at the Futures Game but drew a walk and made a dazzling defensive play on a ground ball up the middle.