The big league stage certainly wasn’t too big for the latest touted Marlins prospect to make his debut.
Braxton Garrett gave up one run on three hits with six strikeouts in Miami’s 8-1 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday in Game 2 of the Marlins’ seven-inning doubleheader.
“It was unbelievable. From the moment I found out until now, it's been an incredible ride,” Garrett said. “It's a dream come true.”
Behind one of their top pitching prospects, the Marlins (23-21) completed a doubleheader sweep and jumped ahead of the Phillies (23-22) for second place in the National League East. Miami has won four of the first six games in its unprecedented seven-game series in five days against Philadelphia.
The Marlins broke the second game open in the sixth on Miguel Rojas’ two-run double and Chad Wallach’s two-run homer.
“If this has not opened the eyes of the people out there that the organization is deep and is doing whatever they need to do to be a sustainable winner for a long time, I don't know what will,” Rojas said.
In Game 1, Miami won, 2-1, powered by Sixto Sánchez’s complete game.
Garrett, Miami’s No. 7 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was the organization’s first-round pick in 2016, seventh overall. The left-hander became the 18th player this season to make his MLB debut with the organization, adding to a franchise record, according to Elias. In the doubleheader, Garrett and Sánchez combined to limit the Phillies to two runs on six hits with 10 strikeouts and four walks over 12 innings.
“Sixto, obviously, was a guy who was at the edge of being here when the season started,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Brax was probably a little further down the chain, just because of where he pitched last year. He pitched at [Class A Advanced] last year, and he may have pitched in the playoffs last year in Double-A. That was a little bit of a stretch.”
In this unprecedented 60-game season, the Marlins have leaned heavily on their deep farm system. Garrett has now made the leap to the big leagues, despite limited experience above Advanced Class A. Last year, he logged 1 2/3 innings at Double-A Jacksonville after making 20 starts, with a 3.34 ERA in 105 innings with the Jupiter Hammerheads.
Garrett is the 14th different starter Miami has used this season, and with two more doubleheaders scheduled on Sept. 18 and Sept. 20 against the Nationals, that list could grow, because Nick Neidert is another possibility.
“It's the reason we probably had a lot more confidence in ourselves in the regular season of 162 games before the whole shutdown in Spring Training,” Mattingly said. “We had a pretty good feeling that we were going to have depth in our pitching. Now, it gives you a chance.
“For the most part, [we] knew that [we] had that depth. I didn't think we would have to use it to this degree.”
Garrett’s career started with a strikeout of the first batter he faced, Andrew McCutchen, a former NL MVP Award winner.
“I'm really happy -- five innings, one run,” Garrett said. “I'd love for my changeup to have been a little bit better. That's the only negative, I will say.”
The Marlins provided the rookie with three runs of support in the first inning on RBI singles from Jesús Aguilar, Matt Joyce and Brian Anderson before Alec Bohm homered off Garrett in the second inning.
Garrett was the recipient of a great defensive play by Anderson in the fifth inning. Andrew Knapp chopped a grounder down the third base line. The ball clipped the bag and redirected into foul territory. Anderson was able to snare it and flip an off-balance throw to first that got Knapp.
Per Statcast, the throw distance for Anderson was 140 feet. The velocity on the toss was 73.9 mph, and Anderson’s exchange time was 0.83 seconds. It wasn’t as if Knapp was going down the line slowly: His sprint speed was 28.4 feet per second, well above the MLB average of 27 feet per second.
The reaction on Garrett’s face on Anderson’s play already has received plenty of social media attention.
“When that happened, I felt like I just looked like a 10-year-old in a candy shop in the middle of a big league game,” Garrett said. “That's one of the greatest plays I've ever seen.”