Ex-Phillies No. 1 prospect crumbles in latest embarrassing experiment as a starter

Sixto Sánchez's first start for the Marlins led to an unfortunate and embarrassing misplay.
Miami Marlins pitcher Sixto Sánchez
Miami Marlins pitcher Sixto Sánchez / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Over the past couple of MLB seasons, we have witnessed many former relievers converting into effective starters for their respective ballclubs. Reynaldo López, Jordan Hicks, Zack Littell, Seth Lugo and Michael King are just some prime examples of such successful stories. However, not everyone is as lucky to make the smooth transition from reliever to starter, or vice versa, especially if the conversion takes place in-season.

One-time Philadelphia Phillies No. 1 prospect Sixto Sánchez has certainly learned it the hard way in his latest attempt to become an MLB starter with the struggling Miami Marlins. Sánchez is mainly known for being one of the key prospects who went the other way in the Phillies’ lopsided deal for J.T. Realmuto.

Former Phillies No. 1 prospect crumbles in latest experiment as an MLB starter

After starting the season in the bullpen, the Marlins experimented with inserting Sánchez into the rotation as he made his first start of the season against the juggernaut Atlanta Braves on April 24. 

The right-hander had been struggling as a reliever so far this season — he had a 6.14 ERA in 7 1/3 innings of relief — so putting him into a starter’s role against one of the top teams in the league just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. And indeed, that was what happened.

He gave up three runs on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts while failing to get out of the third inning. Just to show how nervous he may have been, he balked in the first run of the game in a play that would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.

After the first two batters reached base, he spun to pick off the runner at second, only to realize the Braves were standing on the corners, not second. It took a moment for everyone to understand what had just happened, but eventually, the balk was called, and the Braves tallied the game's first run.

Sánchez previously started seven games in his debut season in 2020, finishing with a 3-2 record and 3.46 ERA.

It's not the Marlins' first experiment with the rotation. They already toyed with moving former standout reliever/closer A.J. Puk into a starter's role, but he failed miserably and is now on the IL with shoulder fatigue.

Even with a depleted starting rotation, it seems like the Marlins didn't learn from their mistake and are now trying it again with Sánchez. Hopefully, with Sánchez having prior experience as a starter for much of his professional baseball career, he won't end up suffering the same results and fate as Puk. 

At least the Phillies don’t need to worry about such conversations with their strong pitching performances of late. Sánchez probably wishes he was still with the organization.