From his first pitch in the majors—a 98 mph fastball for a called strike on Aug. 22—Sixto Sanchez has shown he has the attributes of an ace.
The 22-year-old Dominican righthander went on to throw five pitches that hit 100 during his debut against the Nationals. He recorded quality starts in four of his first five starts.
In seven starts overall Sanchez recorded a 3.46 ERA while striking out 33 and walking 11 in 39 innings. He allowed two home runs in his debut but only one afterward.
“If he stays healthy, (Sanchez) will give people fits for a long time,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s the total package. He throws a lot of strikes, and he can go get more (velocity) when he wants. There’s a lot to like.”
For as dominant as he looked at times, Sanchez allowed nine runs in his final two starts, covering just seven innings. His trouble started against the Nationals, who beat him on Sept. 18 by attacking first-pitch fastballs for opposite-field, groundball hits. The Braves were similarly aggressive in his next start.
Sanchez, signed by the Phillies for just $35,000 in 2015, became an elite prospect in 2017 and was sent to Miami in February of 2019 as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade.
Going forward, Sanchez, who is listed at 6 feet, 235 pounds, could get in better shape. He also needs to continue to make adjustments as hitters learn his repertoire, which includes a two-seamer with power sink, a four-seamer that reaches triple digits, a changeup that dives when it’s on and a slider that’s becoming a plus pitch.
Sanchez’s poise is also impressive. And then there’s this: After he made his big league debut, the Marlins videotaped Sanchez using a laptop to listen to recorded messages from his family in the Dominican Republic. At one point, Sanchez used both hands to wipe away tears.
What happens next is up to him, according to Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
“He has the stuff,” Mattingly said. “But is he going to continue to get better? Is he going to do the things he needs to become a top-line guy?”