Sixto, Rogers nearing Grapefruit debuts

March 3rd, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Two frontrunners to round out the Marlins' rotation -- prospects and -- are nearing their spring debuts, according to manager Don Mattingly.

Sánchez, who was delayed getting to camp by a couple of days, threw a bullpen on Tuesday and will pitch either one or two batting practices before seeing Grapefruit League action. In the past, the Marlins have eased in MLB Pipeline's 15th overall prospect, who experienced right elbow inflammation at Class A Advanced Clearwater in 2018 with the Phillies' organization.

Upon his callup in 2020, the 22-year-old right-hander showed the makings of an ace. Through his first five starts, Sánchez compiled a 1.69 ERA and flashed elite fastball velocity. He struggled over his final two outings when facing clubs for the second time.

"We're really happy with where Sixto's at right now," Mattingly said during a Zoom call on Wednesday. "We had video of all his sides during the winter, conversations with [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] on Sixto, so we're happy where Sixto's at, where his arm's at and in what he looks like in his 'pens."

Rogers, who also was delayed at camp, will start Friday's game against the Astros. No. 11 prospect Nick Neidert will piggyback like he did in Sunday's spring opener. Sandy Alcantara will get the nod on Saturday, with Daniel Castano coming on in relief after starting in his spring debut. Pablo López will close out the weekend with a start on Sunday.

Like Sánchez, the 23-year-old Rogers showed promise during his first taste of the big leagues last season. Ranked as Miami's No. 9 prospect by MLB Pipeline, the lefty recorded 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings and encouraging Statcast metrics. Take away an eight-run outing against the Phillies, and his ERA would've been 3.96 across seven starts.

"Trevor absolutely has an opportunity," Mattingly had said on Tuesday about making the rotation. "He's got plenty of time to be ready to be able to compete for that spot. So 100 percent he's got an opportunity. And not that concerned about that."

Hernandez returns to mound

Elieser Hernandez, projected as the No. 3 starter in the Marlins’ rotation, surrendered a solo homer to Kyle Schwarber across two innings in his spring debut during an 8-5 win over the Nationals. He permitted one other hit and struck out two batters, throwing 45 pitches (25 strikes). More importantly, Hernandez felt healthy. Wednesday marked his first game action since a right lat strain ended his promising 2020 season after six starts. The right-hander had posted a 142 ERA+ and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

"I was actually thinking of that, checking how I was going to feel," Hernandez said via an interpreter. "It was something in my mind, but I was feeling well. Like I told you guys before, I was working a lot on my changeup. And that was one of the things I was doing and felt perfect."

Injury report

Non-roster invite Tommy Eveld exited with an apparent biceps injury, according to Mattingly. The right-hander recorded the final out of the seventh, then returned in the eighth only to grab his arm after recording the second out of the inning.

Additional spring debuts

• Yimi García, one of the Marlins’ candidates to close, gave up a solo homer to Josh Bell in the fourth. He allowed one other hit and struck out two on 15 pitches (12 strikes). His fastball reached 96 mph.

• New reliever John Curtiss, who came on in relief of Eveld, escaped a self-inflicted two-out jam in the eighth by striking out the final batter with two runners on.

Prospect watch

• Jesús Sánchez (No. 5) went 1-for-3.

• Connor Scott (No. 15) collected two RBIs.

MiLB season shakeup

The start of the 2021 Triple-A season will be delayed by a month, meaning MLB clubs will operate alternate training sites similar to those used during the pandemic-shortened '20 season. Initially scheduled to begin on April 6, the Triple-A slate will start on May 4.

"Hopefully we're going to get a huge number of games or a big number of games still to be played," Mattingly said. "It kind of becomes our alternate training site, so guys obviously right here in camp that will be going to Jacksonville, and then hopefully we're all getting to play. I think it was the biggest disappointment for so many kids not getting that development here, that they kind of need to continue to grow. So hopefully we're going to get a lot of games."

Up next

Following their first off-day of Spring Training on Thursday, the Marlins will return to Grapefruit League action at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday against the Astros at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.