As you read this piece, please keep this in mind, because it is important.
Sixto Sanchez is 18 years old.
The teenager is owning hitters in his first year of full-season baseball for the Lakewood Blue Claws, and on Wednesday night, turned in the finest performance of his young career in front of a pack of scouts, all of whom left the park drooling.
As Matt Gelb noted in his piece, they simply couldn’t get enough of young Sixto.
“Jose Fernandez,” one scout said.
“Pedro Martinez,” a second said.
“The best arm I’ve seen in the minors this year,” another said.
“Jesus,” a fourth scout said, not as a comparison, but to express disbelief.“
So yeah, it was kind of a special night for the kid. He pitched six innings for the first time in his young career, but he could have gone longer. He threw 63 pitches (46 strikes) and allowed just three hits and one run while striking out four and walking one.
But the most incredible thing about Sanchez was how he looked. It was effortless.
Sixto does it all in 1-2-3. K swinging at slider, fields a grounder, and swinging K at 101 up. Only 8 pitch inning (27 overall). Here's K #1 pic.twitter.com/rzzFXGYlgY— Jeff Israel (@JPhils90) July 12, 2017
1-2-3, 7 pitch inning for Sixto. F9 x2, K. Threw a change at 89, FB 94-99. Then the last pitch he threw: 101 MPH. Here's the K. pic.twitter.com/N2ILAROJ90— Jeff Israel (@JPhils90) July 12, 2017
And the 3rd K of the game, 2nd of the 3rd inning. 101 pic.twitter.com/6j34TODMbJ— Jeff Israel (@JPhils90) July 12, 2017
Sixto threw 98-99 in the 4th, slider has a lot of spin on it. Another 1-2-3 inning on 9 pitches (36), no Ks. Here's 1st batter of inning pic.twitter.com/bqt8sTpNUx— Jeff Israel (@JPhils90) July 13, 2017
This year, Sanchez has a 1.71 ERA in 110 1⁄3 innings. He has struck out 98 batters and walked 14. He is a strike-throwing machine, and many of those strikes are in the upper-90s and 100s, with an improving curveball and changeup.
Sanchez was recently ranked as the No. 18 prospect in Baseball Prospectus’ mid-season Top 50, and the team’s top overall prospect. Baseball America’s mid-season Top 100 has him at No. 47 overall, one spot behind Mickey Moniak as the Phillies’ best prospect.
So how did the Phillies find this kid?
In 2015, the team was scouting a catching prospect in the Dominican Republic and local scouts in the area brought a number of pitchers to the field to throw to the catcher. After the try-out, the team no longer had any interest in the catcher, but they were wowed by what they saw from Sanchez, one of the stable of arms who was brought to them that day as a glorified sparring partner.
They signed him for $35,000.
Of course, playing in Low-A Lakewood is about as far away from the Majors as a young prospect can be. He will not be on the Phils in 2018, and almost certainly not in 2019.
But when the calendar flips to 2020, we could be looking at Sixto time in the Majors. That’s when he’ll have the opportunity to replace Sixto Lezcano as the greatest Sixto in franchise history.
Sanchez is just the latest prospect to get excited about. And while trusting in one particular prospect with all your heart is lunacy (especially an 18-year-old pitching prospect), it’s still OK to #TrustTheProspects as a whole.
And Sixto is just the latest to get giddy about.
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