There is no question that Marlins right-hander Sixto Sanchez and Dodgers righty Dustin May are among the most promising pitching prospects in baseball. Outlets such as MLB.com, Baseball America and FanGraphs each rank them as two of the 50 best prospects in the game. The only site that puts much of a gap between the two is FanGraphs, which has May at No. 14 and Sanchez 48th. They’re otherwise neck and neck – MLB.com places Sanchez 22nd and May 23rd, while BA also gives Sanchez a bit of an edge (16th to May’s 20th).
As we continue comparing the two, it’s worth taking a look at their professional careers to this point. Now 22 years old, the 6-foot-6, 180-pound May joined the Dodgers as a third-round pick in 2016. His quality repertoire consisting of a fastball that can reach the upper 90s, a cutter and a curveball has helped him mow down the competition so far. He got to the Triple-A level for the first time last season and thrived over 27 1/3 innings, notching a 2.30 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 2.96 BB/9 and a 60 percent groundball rate. That’s obviously not a large sample of work (just five starts), but it was enough to convince the Dodgers to promote May to the majors on the final day of July.
How much time May will spend with the Dodgers in 2020 (if there is a season) remains to be seen, but the man known as “Gingergaard” made a compelling case that he’s a major league-caliber hurler during his initial MLB action. May totaled 14 appearances (four starts) and logged a 3.63 ERA/2.90 FIP with 8.31 K/9, a stunningly low 1.3 BB/9 and a respectable 44.4 percent grounder rate across 34 2/3 innings. Maybe he won’t realize his potential this year, but May has “All-Star, mid-rotation” upside, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote in February.
The Dominican-born Sanchez, 21, has been a much-needed ray of hope for the Marlins since he joined the franchise in a blockbuster trade in February 2019. Sanchez was the headlining prospect the Marlins received from the division-rival Phillies for star catcher J.T. Realmuto, and continued to boost his stock in his first year with the Miami organization. He carved up the competition during his first try in Double-A, where he recorded a 2.53 ERA/2.69 FIP, struck out almost a hitter per inning, walked fewer than two per nine and induced grounders at a 47.9 percent clip in 103 frames. Sanchez can throw very hard, even reaching triple digits on occasion, though Longenhagen cautions that his “fastball plays beneath its velocity right now because it has sub-optimal underlying components.” There are also concerns about Sanchez’s injury history, but thanks in part to great secondary offerings and plus command, there’s front-of-the-rotation potential if he stays healthy.
Sanchez and May certainly count as a pair of the most exciting young pitchers in the game. But if you can only take one, which one would you choose? (Poll link for app users)