While attending a workout for a Cuban catcher in the Dominican Republic in February 2015, the Phillies spotted Sanchez and signed him for $35,000. He led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with a 0.50 ERA in his U.S. debut a year later, then developed into one of baseball's best pitching prospects in 2017. Elbow inflammation limited him to eight starts in 2018, after which Philadelphia made him the centerpiece of a trade for J.T. Realmuto, but he was healthy throughout 2019 and worked a career-high 114 innings while the Marlins handled him carefully.
Sanchez's combination of stuff and command belongs in the discussion of the best among pitching prospects. His fastballs usually park at 95-99 mph, with a two-seamer that features power sink and a four-seamer that climbs into triple digits. His best secondary offering is a changeup that dives at the plate, and he also has good feel for manipulating a hard slider that can be a plus pitch at times.
Sanchez has pounded the strike zone ever since he entered pro ball, displaying an easy, repeatable delivery that helps diminish concerns about durability despite his smaller frame. While he hasn't missed as many bats as his stuff suggests he should, he posted a 4.6 K/BB ratio and a 1.4 groundout/airout ratio in his first five Minor League seasons. As long as he stays healthy, he has the ingredients to become Miami's best starter since the late Jose Fernandez.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 75 | Curve: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Sanchez may have been an under-the-radar signing back in 2015 when the Phillies nabbed him for just $35,000. But starting with his United States debut in '16, when he won the Gulf Coast League ERA crown, he's been raising his prospect value exponentially. The only thing that's slowed him down has been the injury bug, with elbow inflammation shutting him down in early June in 2018, though that didn't stop the Marlins from insisting Sanchez be included in the package they received for trading J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia in February.
When healthy, Sanchez has perhaps the best combination of electric stuff and command of any pitcher in the Minor Leagues. He might appear undersized at six-feet tall, but he's deceptively strong, with an athletic and repeatable delivery. Sanchez throws both a two- and four-seam fastball, the former thrown with a lot of sink to get ground-ball outs and the latter cranked up to triple digits at times. Not only can Sanchez maintain velocity deep into starts, the fastball plays up because of movement and his plus command of the pitch. He can add and subtract from his breaking ball, and seeing it as a future plus strikeout pitch isn't out of the question. He shows good feel for his changeup as well, giving him the chance to have at least three above-average offerings.
Sanchez's workload has been limited, partially because of understandable caution and partially because of injury. A healthy and complete 2019 should help get him ready for an eventual career at or near the top of a big league rotation.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curve: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 60
Sanchez signed for just $35,000 and immediately looked like a steal as he won the ERA crown in the Gulf Coast League for his U.S. debut in 2016, then dominated in his first taste of full-season ball and earned a promotion up to the Florida State League just after his 19th birthday for an encore. His race to Philadelphia was slowed somewhat by elbow inflammation in 2018, and a sore collarbone cost him a chance to make up innings in the Arizona Fall League. In February 2019, the Phillies sent him, Jorge Alfaro, Will Stewart and international pool money to the Marlins in exchange for J.T. Realmuto.
It's hard not to get excited about Sanchez's combination of pure stuff and feel for pitching. While he is just six feet tall, he's strong and athletic with a repeatable delivery that points to a future in a rotation. He can hit triple digits with his four-seam fastball and also features a two-seamer with a ton of sinking action. His fastball is better than its pure velocity because of its movement as well as his ability to command it extremely well. His secondary stuff continues to improve, with a breaking ball he adds and subtracts from and a changeup he shows a good feel for at times. Both will flash above-average to plus, and given his overall feel for pitching, there is confidence both will get there consistently in time.
Sanchez has one of the highest ceilings among Minor League pitchers and possesses all the ingredients needed to headline a big league rotation. A healthy and uninterrupted campaign in 2019 will be crucial in helping him to reach that potential, though the Marlins may very well exercise caution with Sanchez's workload after he logged just 46 2/3 frames in '18.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curve: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55
First impressions aren't the be-all and end-all in the often long development path for prospects, but they certainly don't hurt. After signing for just $35,000 in 2015, Sanchez had a fairly ordinary debut in the Dominican Summer League. But when he showed up to pitch in the United States for the first time in 2016, he was lights out and led the Gulf Coast League in ERA.
A very efficient strike-thrower, Sanchez isn't the tallest right-hander in the world, but he has plenty of arm. He'll throw his fastball consistently in the 93-96 mph range and was up to 97-98 mph at times last summer. He separates himself from others at his level because of his outstanding fastball command, throwing his heater with movement in the zone that gets ground-ball outs and swings and misses. His curve is developing and could be a plus pitch in the future, and he has a good feel for his changeup. He's strong and athletic, repeating his delivery well.
Between extended spring training and the GCL in 2016, Sanchez threw about 90 innings. That set him up well for his first full season in the States, where he added to that first impression as a potential impact starter in the big leagues.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Some international signees are seven-figure bonus babies. Others are diamonds in the rough given a much lower dollar figure to start their pro careers. Sanchez fits into the latter category, signing for just $35,000. After beginning his career in 2015 in the Dominican Summer League, he jumped on everyone's radars when he led the Gulf Coast League with a 0.50 ERA during his United States debut in 2016.
A one-time infielder, the right-hander has truly taken to the mound. He repeats his delivery well and throws a lot of strikes, especially for a teenager. He'll throw his fastball consistently into the mid 90s and can reach back for more, throwing the heater with excellent movement to miss bats and generate groundball outs. His secondary stuff -- a curve and changeup -- has the chance to be at least Major League average. He fields his position well, and while he is just 6-foot, his strength and athleticism point to a future as a starter.
Considering he's only been pitching for about two years, and that his U.S. debut went better than anyone could have expected, he raised expectations quite a bit for 2017.