On Wednesday night, I was lucky enough to travel up to see Phillies prospect Sixto Sanchez pitch in Lakewood against the Rome Braves. Sanchez, who was signed to a $35,000 signing bonus in 2015, pitched well, going 6 strong innings while giving up 4 hits, a walk, an earned run, 4 strikeouts, and came away with a win. Many scouts and writers were in attendance to see him pitch and it is clear he is becoming a top prospect in the Phillies Organization.
A few things stood out about the 18 year-old flamethrower. First of all, his fastball was very impressive. Sanchez fires the ball effortlessly, and despite his small stature (6’0”, 185 lbs), he reached triple digits consistently (I was able to sit right behind home plate, and looked right over to the many radar guns to my left that scouts had). The velocity is there, which is great, but the ball also has some serious movement.
A 101 MPH fastball is impressive enough, but when it is tailing towards or away from a hitter, it makes it that much harder to hit. For the most part, the Dominican native had solid command of his fastball, and threw 45 of 62 of his pitches for strikes (a 4-pitch walk in the first was the biggest blip in that category). Sanchez also sports a changeup that sits 85-88, and is often times just as unhittable as hit fastball.
While his fastball and changeup are certainly plus-pitches, Sanchez’s curveball, which sits 81-83, is still in development. It did show some promise throughout the game, and when he really spun it across the plate, it showed the potential to be a plus pitch in the future. However, Sanchez threw pitches that simply did not break a few times, and they either fell way inside or hung over the plate.
While this may be a bit worrisome, it is important to keep in mind that, a) Sanchez dominated the game anyways, and b) he hasn’t even turned 19 yet. He has plenty of time to continue to develop the curveball.
Sanchez had control of the game from beginning to end, and the hitters never really had a chance against him the first five innings of the game. He worked quickly, taking no time between pitches. He ran into a bit of trouble in the 6th, giving up two hard line drives for hits, but recovered to only give up one run and finish the inning before he was removed from the game.
In 11 starts this season, the right-hander has an ERA of 2.88 in 56.1 innings pitched. He has struck out 54 batters and only walked 6 (that’s NINE strikeouts/walk), showing he has excellent command as a soon-to-be 19 year old. The Phillies farm system, which is talented but has been ridiculed for lacking a player with true superstar potential, may have found its guy.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images via AP Images