The Marlins have gone the entire season thus far without one of their most promising young players, injured right-hander Sixto Sanchez, and his return is not imminent. General manager Kim Ng told Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald and other reporters that Sanchez is “still a ways out” in his recovery from shoulder inflammation.
Health has been an issue since last month for Sanchez, who started the spring behind schedule because of COVID-19 protocols and didn’t make his exhibition debut until March 15. The Marlins optioned Sanchez to the minors before the regular season to let him continue building up arm strength, but his shoulder began bothering him during a simulated game on April 1.
Naturally, the Marlins aren’t going to rush Sanchez back, as the 22-year-old is among their most valuable building blocks. Originally acquired in a 2019 trade that sent star catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies, Sanchez has so far lived up to the considerable hype he garnered as a prospect. Sanchez debuted in the majors last year with 39 innings of 3.46 ERA/4.18 SIERA ball and averaged just under 98 mph on his fastball. While Sanchez’s elite velocity didn’t lead to a high strikeout percentage (20.9), a 58.0 percent groundball rate helped him keep runs off the board and finish in a seventh-place tie for National League Rookie of the Year honors.
To its credit, Miami’s rotation has opened 2021 well without Sanchez and fellow righty Elieser Hernandez, who has been on the injured list since April 5 with a biceps issue. Thanks largely to Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers (who threw seven shutout innings against the Orioles on Wednesday) and Pablo Lopez, the Marlins’ starting staff has notched a 3.39 ERA/3.98 SIERA through the first 17 games of the season.