Marlins select RHP Sharp in Rule 5 Draft

December 16th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Two years ago, the Marlins delivered a Rule 5 Draft success story when they selected right-hander Elieser Hernandez from the Astros' system.

Miami is hopeful that it uncovered another gem on Thursday by selecting right-hander Sterling Sharp from the Nationals in the MLB Phase.

"The Rule 5 is always a great opportunity for us to be creative, and to add a pitcher, in this case, that we feel can impact our bullpen," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "As we've looked at the skill sets that we've wanted to improve our bullpen, obviously, strike-throwing has been a big part of it, and athleticism."

The Marlins also didn't lose any players in the MLB Phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Left-handers Will Stewart and Dylan Lee, along with right-hander Tommy Eveld, were eligible. They will remain in Miami's system.

In the Triple-A Phase, the Marlins selected catcher Julian Leon from the Angels' organization. The 23-year-old is a career .237 hitter with 50 homers across seven Minor League seasons, but he is more regarded for his defensive and catching skills. He has made just 43 errors in 2,899 career innings while throwing out 33 percent of runners attempting to steal.

Sharp, 24, was rated by MLB Pipeline as the Nationals' No. 13 prospect. As a Rule 5 Draft pick, he must stick on the 26-man roster or risk being returned to Washington.

"That was a big sigh of relief and I'm very excited it happened," Sharp said. "I was a little disappointed not being added to the 40-man, so that timespan from then until now … it's a big sigh of relief someone took a chance on me."

With a 26-man roster, the Marlins feel it enhances Sharp's chances to make the club. That wasn't the case two years ago when Hernandez, who is a candidate to either start or pitch in the bullpen for Miami in 2019, had to stick with the big league club with the rosters set at 25.

"Elieser was a selection based on unbelievable spin rate on his fastball and his ability to miss bats at the top of the zone," Hill said.

At three Minor League levels in 2019, Sharp went 5-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 12 starts.

Miami is in the market for strike throwers, and Sharp graded highly in that department and keeping the ball on the ground. He posted an 8.2 K/9 rate and a 2.5 BB/9. Sharp also has an effective sinker, inducing ground balls at a 63.3 percent rate in 49 2/3 innings last season at Double-A.

"Sterling Sharp has an incredible sinker," Hill said. "When you look at the metrics and his ability to put the ball on the ground, it's one of the top ground-ball rates in all of baseball.

"We felt this was a great opportunity for us to add an element to our bullpen that we think will help us."