April 19, 2017
Guarding The Lines
This past Thursday, I saw one of 2017’s breakout candidates for the first time: Philadelphia Phillies right-handed pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez. Sanchez was even better than advertised, and I think it’s safe to say he’s breaking out. Sanchez mixed in all kinds of fastballs from 92 up to a comfortable 98, and featured a promising slider and change. The command profile was unusually advanced for an 18-year-old making his second start in A-ball, especially one that was a late pitching convert. He worked unusually fast, and he got off the mound to cover first as fast as any pitcher I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t perfect—the command wasn’t always there—and normal caveats about tiny righties who have two starts above the complex leagues absolutely apply. But you’re probably going to be hearing us all talk about Sixto Sanchez in hushed tones for awhile.
The next night, I snuck away from that Lakewood/Greensboro series and drove down to Trenton for the Double-A version of Yankees/Red Sox. It was mostly to get a 2017 drop-in on Rafael Devers and start building up looks on Gleyber Torres. But the thing that ultimately stood out the most was Portland’s starting pitcher, Trey Ball.
Trey Ball was Sixto Sanchez once. Well, not exactly—Ball is an American lefty, and I don’t recall anyone clocking him at 98, but there are still a lot of similarities here. Ball was a two-way player when drafted seventh overall by the Red Sox in 2013, just like Sanchez was when signed, yet the skill on the mound was too much to pass up. Ball was just off our 2014 global prospect list, just like Sanchez was just off this year’s, a promising pitching prospect out of the Gulf Coast League about to make his way to full-season ball. And then Trey Ball’s career stalled.