On Sunday, September 13, fans not just of the Miami Marlins but all of baseball were able to witness quite the treat. Not only did they get the chance to see Sixto Sanchez earn his third win of 2020 but also the MLB debut of Braxton Garrett in the double-header against the Philadelphia Phillies. The number seven overall prospect for the Marlins had quite the welcoming into the major league ranks on Sunday as he helped Miami to an 8-1 victory and so much more. Miami’s young pitchers are becoming the talk of baseball.
A Debut Worth Remembering for Garrett
Nearly every pitcher with hopes of an MLB career practically imagines what their big league debut might look like. For every debut scenario that could have taken place, Garrett certainly had one many could only dream of. Within the confines of Marlins Park on Sunday, the 23-year old helped provide Miami with their 23rd win of the year. That also boosted the Marlins into second-place within the NL East race with a 23-21 record. Garrett himself allowed just one run on three hits while dishing out six strikeouts in the second of the twin-bill for the day.
After becoming a Marlin via a first-round draft selection in 2016, the young southpaw became the 18th player to make his MLB debut for Miami on Sunday. That number alone ranks among the most so far across all of Major League Baseball and ties a franchise record. Garrett is also the 14th different starter that has taken the mound for Miami this season. There is potentially more to come. Overall it was a debut performance well worthy of praise, especially considering it all started off with his first MLB strikeout against former NL MVP award winner Andrew McCutchen.
Overall, Garrett’s journey has seemingly led him to such an outcome. Despite limited experience above Advanced Class A, Garrett has been impressive in his minor league time. He logged one and two-thirds innings at Double-A Jacksonville after making 20 starts with the Jupiter Hammerheads. There he logged a 3.34 ERA in 105 innings pitched. That, among many things, helped him put up a strong showing which combined with Sanchez’s game one outing, limited the visiting Phillies to two runs on six hits. The pair also struck out a combined ten Phillies batters with a mere four walks in 12 innings.
The win for Miami under Garrett’s watch has shown that leaning on their farm system has panned out well so far. If the playoffs were to start today, Miami would be in the fifth spot in the NL.
Sixto Is the Real Deal
Before Garrett dazzled the Phillies in game two, Sixto Sanchez picked up his third win of 2020. The win logged Miami’s first complete game of the season in a 2-1 Marlins win. It was the fourth complete game of his professional career with three coming within the minor league ranks. The former Phillies prospect, who came to Miami as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade, allowed just three hits to his former team. He continued to improve his rookie of the year status by tossing heat well into the last inning of game one.
According to MLB.com’s Andrew Simon, Sanchez’s 100.4 mph pitch to Alec Bohm marked just the second time in the last two seasons a starting pitcher has topped triple digits in the seventh inning or later. That very pitch that struck out Bohm was one of four from the 22-year old. It made him the 11th pitcher since 2008 to record a strikeout on a pitch 100 mph or more in the seventh inning or later. That dates back to when pitch-tracking first began.
Sunday without a doubt showed that Sanchez has the capability to be the next big thing in pitching. Per Statcast, two of his pitches (four-seem) reached 100 mph or better with 20 four-seamers averaging 98.7 mph. Sanchez impressed with his sinker, topping out at 99.7 mph. Along with that power, Sanchez has been able to employ solid control. He allowed just two walks in 25 innings leading up to Sunday’s strong outing. You saw that against the Phillies specifically in the fourth inning where it took Sanchez just nine pitches (seven strikes) to set down the Philadelphia lineup.
Sanchez now boasts a 1.69 ERA with a strikeout-per-nine innings mark of 8.16. He has also stranded runners on base 93 percent of the time with just six earned runs allowed so far.
Trusting the Process
It’s been a rough road the last few years for Miami. But what 2020 is starting to show is that being patient has worked. Through this shortened 60-game season, Miami has shown the ability to not only stay competitive but succeed in winning games this year. The Marlins have played strong against the division leader Atlanta with a 3-3 record. They also have officially won the season series against the Phillies which now stands at 6-3.
While there is still a lot of work ahead for Miami to be a powerhouse team that consistently hunts for playoff berths, they are well on their way. They’ve got a strong core of players for the next few seasons. The Marlins farm system is now finally starting to pay off. It’s a farm system that ranked fourth in all of baseball entering the 2020 season. The Marlins are now becoming legitimate contenders that will be viable not just in the next few seasons, but for many years ahead. Miami has been searching for a way back into postseason play since 2003. Now armed with two more strong arms, the Marlins are looking to make that possibility a reality.
Embed from Getty Images