The Marlins finished with the National League’s worst record for the second consecutive season last year and have endured 10 straight losing seasons dating back to the 2010 campaign. However, their bottom-feeding days appear to finally be over. Despite dropping three straight to the division-rival Mets -- who are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak in their clubhouse -- earlier this week, they’re 9-9 overall and just a game and a half behind the first-place Braves in the NL East this season. With a potential playoff berth on the horizon, they’ve got some much-needed reinforcements on the way. According to multiple reports, the Marlins will call-up their top pitching prospect, hard-throwing right-hander Sixto Sanchez, to make his major-league debut during their scheduled five-games series against the Nationals this weekend.
The 22-year-old fireballer, acquired from the Phillies as the centerpiece of the J.T. Realmuto trade prior to the 2019 campaign, has been stretching out at the team’s alternate training site over the last few weeks. Per multiple reports, he’s built up to 90 pitches in recent scrimmages and should be primed to handle a starter’s workload moving forward. Armed with a three-pitch repertoire, headlined by a triple-digit heater, Sanchez profiles as a future frontline starter and potential fantasy ace if his strikeout rate marginally improves. He’s a reliable strike-throwing with excellent control of his prodigious raw stuff, which should be greatly beneficial in his transition to facing major-league hitters full-time. The double-plus fastball justifiably garners plenty of headlines, but Sanchez also possesses an above-average upper-80’s changeup and hard-biting slider. He’s coming off an excellent 2019 campaign in which he recorded a 2.76 ERA and 103/21 K/BB ratio over 114 league innings (20 starts) between High-A and Double-A. From a fantasy perspective, Sanchez may not post eye-popping strikeout totals, but he possesses one of the highest long-term ceilings of any pitching prospect in the game and should be rostered in all fantasy formats. Given his preternatural command of his impressive arsenal, he has a shot to make a fantasy impact right away.
In addition to Sanchez’ highly-anticipated arrival on the mound, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Thursday that the Marlins are also expected to call-up their top positional prospect, Jesus Sanchez, to make his big-league debut this weekend. The 22-year-old corner outfielder was one of the premier prospects dealt at last year’s trade deadline, coming over from the Rays as the centerpiece of the Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards swap. He got his first exposure to Triple-A last season, hitting .227/.311/.383 with five home runs in 149 plate appearances split between the Rays and Marlins affiliates. Given his extremely limited upper-minors track record, there may be a rocky adjustment period forthcoming, which leads to an extremely wide range of short-term outcomes. Given all of the uncertainty in his profile, it’s unlikely he’ll make a huge fantasy impact right out of the gate. However, Sanchez projects as an everyday corner outfielder for the Marlins and is worthy of a speculative pickup for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues and NL-only formats.
Mets Season Paused Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak
The Mets became the latest organization to witness its condensed 60-game season come to a screeching halt as a result of the global pandemic on Thursday afternoon when the finale of their four-game series against the division-rival Marlins was abruptly postponed. According to multiple reports, two members of the Mets organization -- one player and one staff member -- tested positive for COVID-19, leading to the postponement of their next two scheduled contests, which includes Friday’s Subway Series opener against the Yankees at Citi Field. Major League Baseball has not made an official announcement regarding the remaining two games of the series, scheduled for Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. It’s possible that the Mets could be sidelined for a much longer period if there are additional positive tests in the coming days.
Depending on the results of the league’s additional testing and contact tracing over the next few days, the Mets’ COVID-19 outbreak could have a cascading ripple effect on the remainder of the truncated 2020 campaign. The Marlins experienced a massive disruption, including seven postponements and nearly half of their active roster sidelined, due to a widespread outbreak in their clubhouse. Meanwhile, the Cardinals went nearly three weeks without playing a game after multiple positive tests in their organization before finally returning to action last weekend. It’s a situation worth monitoring closely.
Bart Hype Train Arrives In Bay Area
The Joey Bart era has begun in San Francisco. After several weeks of additional seasoning at the team’s alternate training site, the Giants finally promoted their top prospect on Thursday afternoon. The 23-year-old catcher, the second overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, is widely-viewed as the presumptive heir apparent to veteran stalwart Buster Posey, who opted out of the 2020 campaign after he and his wife adopted twin girls earlier this summer. Bart posted a .278/.328/.495 triple-slash line with 16 home runs and five stolen bases in 338 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A last season. He also tore the cover off the ball, recording an absurd .333/.524/.767 triple-slash line in the Arizona Fall League last year.
As Rotoworld prospect guru Chris Crawford noted in his latest Top 10 Prospects column this week, “Bart is one of the top catching prospects in baseball, but it’s worth pointing out that he’s also been working out at first base at the Giants’ alternate training site. That could be because the Giants want to work on Bart’s versatility and it’s also worth pointing out that San Francisco selected a catcher with their first-round selection (Patrick Bailey), but it also could be a way to get the 2018 first-round selection’s bat in the lineup. With plus power to all parts of the field and catcher eligibility, Bart would be a must-add when he gets the call …”
Bart started behind the plate and went 1-for-4 with a double in his major league debut against the Angels on Thursday night. He scalded a 109.5 mph line-drive into the left-field corner off Angels veteran righty Julio Teheran in the sixth inning to collect his first big-league hit. There isn’t much of an upper minors track record to evaluate, but he projects as a potential power-hitting backstop capable of posting respectable batting averages annually. Given the utterly abysmal state of the catching landscape, Bart is worthy of a speculative pickup in all fantasy formats.
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Banged-Up Bregman Sidelined Two Weeks
To claim that the Astros have merely been snake-bitten by injuries this season would be quite an understatement. Simply put, they’ve been struck by a veritable tornado of injuries that would decimate most franchises. Over the last few weeks, Houston has lost central cornerstones in their lineup, rotation and bullpen; including reigning AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, AL Rookie of the Year recipient Yordan Alvarez and veteran stalwarts Michael Brantley and Roberto Osuna. Less than 24 hours after the team announced that Alvarez would undergo season-ending knee surgery, the Astros placed superstar third baseman Alex Bregman on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.
The 2019 AL MVP runner-up suffered the injury while legging out a double on Wednesday night at Coors Field and returned to Houston on Thursday to undergo an MRI. The 26-year-old infielder is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks. However, that timeline could change depending on the severity of the strain. It’s a crushing blow for fantasy managers considering that Bregman was really starting to heat up at the dish recently. In addition to hitting .272/.374/.500 with four home runs and 14 RBI, he owned a nine-game hitting streak and had reached base safely in 40 consecutive contests dating back to last season, the longest active streak in the majors. It’ll be up to Canadian infielder Abraham Toro, who blasted a three-run homer in Thursday's win over the Rockies, to fill-in at the hot corner during his absence.
As if things couldn’t get worse for the Astros from a health standpoint, they’ll also be without flame-throwing right-hander Josh James for an extended stretch after he exited Thursday’s contest against the Rockies due to left hip discomfort. The 27-year-old sustained the injury while attempting to field a ground ball and appeared to be in a great deal of pain before being helped off the field. He’ll undergo additional testing and a trip to the injured list seems all but certain at this point. To their credit, the Astros have won nine of their last 10 contests and remain just two and a half games behind the Athletics in the AL West. However, as the injuries continue to pile up, their organizational depth may be tested to its potential breaking point over the next few weeks.
American League Quick Hits: Shane Bieber recorded 11 strikeouts over six shutout innings in a win over the Pirates. The 25-year-old righty’s 65 strikeouts through six starts are tied for the fourth-most by any starting pitcher to open a season since 1893 … Tim Anderson went 2-for-4 with a solo homer -- his sixth round-tripper of the season -- and a stolen base to propel the White Sox to a blowout victory over the Tigers … Eloy Jimenez went 3-for-4 with a homer in Lucas Giolito recorded a season-high 13 strikeouts over seven scoreless frames in the one-sided affair … Jose Berrios racked up nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings to pick up a win against the Brewers … Matt Chapman launched a pair of home runs in the Athletics’ win over the Diamondbacks … Luke Voit clobbered his 10th home run of the season in the Yankees’ loss to the Rays … Joey Wendle went 2-for-4 with three RBI in the Rays’ victory … James Paxton (elbow, forearm) and Gleyber Torres (hamstring tightness) exited that contest early due to injury and will undergo precautionary MRI’s … Rowdy Tellez went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBI to help the Blue Jays sweep a doubleheader against the Phillies … Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-5 and walloped a solo homer to propel the Red Sox past the Orioles … Anthony Rendon told reporters on Thursday that his sore left wrist “doesn't feel great,” but that he's going to continue to play despite the injury … Andrelton Simmons (ankle) could return to the Angels’ lineup over the weekend … Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said Thursday that he is "extremely optimistic" on Bo Bichette (knee) returning before the end of the regular season. The 22-year-old shortstop landed on the injured list Sunday with a Grade 1 sprain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, but the swelling has already dissipated. He'll be reassessed this weekend by the Blue Jays' medical staff and could be cleared to resume light baseball activities … White Sox manager Rick Renteria told reporters Thursday that he’s hopeful Luis Robert (hand) will return to the team’s starting lineup on Friday … Indians right-handed pitching prospect Triston McKenzie is scheduled to make his MLB debut in a start Saturday against the Tigers. The 23-year-old former supplemental first-round pick holds a 2.68 ERA, 0.997 WHIP, and 394/98 K/BB ratio in 329 career minor league innings … Twins placed Byron Buxton (shoulder inflammation) Mitch Garver (intercostal strain) on the 10-day injured list … Rangers placed Willie Calhoun (hamstring strain) and Elvis Andrus (lower back strain) on the 10-day injured list … Yankees placed Zack Britton on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain and also optioned INF/OF Miguel Andujar to their alternate training site … Red Sox activated Darwinzon Hernandez from the COVID-19 injured list … White Sox optioned Dane Dunning to their alternate training site. The 25-year-old righty yielded three runs over 4 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and zero walks in his major-league debut against the Tigers on Wednesday … Blue Jays designated Anthony Alford for assignment.
National League Quick Hits: Eric Hosmer went 2-for-4 with a grand slam and also stole a base in the Padres extra-inning victory over the Rangers. The Padres are the first team in major-league history to hit a grand slam in four consecutive games … Dinelson Lamet whiffed nine batters over five innings of two-run ball in a no-decision against the Rangers … Clayton Kershaw recorded 11 strikeouts over seven innings of one-run ball in the Dodgers’ win over the Mariners … Cody Bellinger went 2-for-3 with a solo homer in the victory … Bryce Harper slugged his sixth home run of the season and Andrew McCutchen went 4-for-8 with four RBI, but the Phillies were still swept by the Blue Jays in a doubleheader … Ryan McMahon homered twice in the Rockies’ loss to the Astros … German Marquez was lit up for 10 runs on 10 hits over five innings in that slugfest … Raisel Iglesias surrendered three runs on two hits and one walk in a blown save against the Cardinals … Cardinals activated Yadier Molina off the COVID-19 injured list. He went 2-for-4 with three RBI in his return to the lineup against the Reds … Marlins activated SS Miguel Rojas from the COVID-19 injured list … Paul DeJong (COVID-19) could return to the Cardinals’ lineup on Monday … Padres manager Jayce Tingler told reporters Thursday that closer Drew Pomeranz is dealing with shoulder tightness.