Sixto among Miami's swaps paying off

September 14th, 2020

Trusting the process takes time, and the Marlins’ organization and its fans certainly have shown plenty of patience. And now with the club having control of its own postseason destiny, Miami is also seeing some return on several of its high-profile trades.

On Sunday, Marlins No. 1 prospect put on a show, tossing Miami’s first complete game of the season in a 2-1 win over the Phillies at Marlins Park in Game 1 of a seven-inning doubleheader.

Sánchez, of course, was part of the well-publicized trade with the Phillies in early February 2019. Miami acquired the hard-throwing right-hander, along with catcher Jorge Alfaro and lefty prospect Will Stewart, for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.

“Both teams are happy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Obviously, we’re happy with what Sixto is doing, and Jorge keeps progressing, and he has a chance to be a really, really good catcher and offensive player.”

The Marlins had an extremely high asking price for Realmuto, who at the time of the trade had two years of club control before being eligible for free agency.

Realmuto is an All-Star, a Gold Glove Award winner and arguably the best overall catcher in the Majors.

“Philly, we know, got a great player,” Mattingly said. “We knew that when we gave him up. J.T. is a great player and a big-time competitor. You knew how good he is when you let him go.”

The Marlins the past few years have been developing prospects, such as Sánchez, who is off to a sparkling start. The rookie is 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA. He throws 100 mph, and he has logged 29 strikeouts in 32 innings.

“They got what they wanted instantly,” Mattingly said. “We had to wait, and we had to develop it and get it to where it needs to go. That’s what you want, when you make a trade. You hope it works out both ways.”

At the time of the trade, the Marlins made it clear to the Phillies that they would only part with Realmuto if Sánchez were included. If not, Miami was prepared to retain Realmuto.

There was also risk involved, because Sánchez dealt with right elbow inflammation, which limited him to 46 2/3 innings at Class A Advanced Clearwater in 2018.

The Marlins recognized that Sánchez had elite talent, but he had to establish health. To do so, the club’s medical and developmental staffs outlined a strict throwing and training program for him to follow. That meant starting Sánchez off slower than other prospects. In 2019, he logged 114 Minor League innings, with 103 at Double-A Jacksonville.

This year, Sánchez was eased back in Spring Training, and he was on his own program.

Even in Summer Camp, Sánchez showed that he was big league-ready, but the organization still held him back. They waited for him to be built up to about 90 pitches in scrimmages.

Now, Sánchez is a fixture in the rotation, and he’s gaining plenty of national attention. Even his idol, Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, reached out via Twitter to congratulate Sánchez after his win over the Phillies on Sunday.

Neidert recalls his trade
Like Sánchez, Nick Neidert was also part of a high-profile trade.

In December 2017, Miami acquired Neidert as part of the Dee Strange-Gordon trade with the Mariners. Also in the deal were right-hander Robert Dugger and infielder Chris Torres.

Dugger also has been in the big leagues.

“You come to an organization that wants you to be part of a rebuild,” Neidert said. “That’s really cool, and then you get in with other guys who have kind of been traded for the same sort of way. It’s like, they obviously wanted us for a reason. They want us to be part of a rebuild.”

Garrett sent back to Jupiter
Braxton Garrett did his job in Game 2 on Sunday, giving up one run in five innings in an 8-1 win over the Phillies.

The 23-year-old left-hander then returned to the alternate training site in Jupiter, Fla. The decision was expected, because he was added as the 29th player in the doubleheader.

Since he wouldn’t be available in the bullpen, Garrett now is an option to start one of the doubleheader games against the Nationals on Friday.

“He showed composure,” Mattingly said. “I think the breaking ball is his weapon.”

Mattingly noted that teams will now have a game plan for Garrett, who was a late surprise to face the Phillies.

“Now if he’s the guy who gets called up to face anybody, now they’re going to have a game to look at,” Mattingly said. “Hitters will have a little better understanding of what he is. It doesn’t get easier, it gets harder.”