Welcome to the Marlins, Sterling Sharp! Thursday morning was the 2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft (the unofficial conclusion to the Winter Meetings), and for the third straight year, Miami used the process to fill out its roster with young pitching.
In his Rule 5 preview, our own Spencer Morris highlighted the unprotected Washington Nationals right-hander as a potential target:
One of the more athletic hurlers in the minors, Sharp is a long-limbed 6’4”, and uses his lanky frame to generate downward plane on a high-80s sinker that has become very effective for him. He was limited to just nine starts at Double-A last season but had strong results, with a 2.59 FIP, 21.0% K rate and a tidy 6.5% BB rate. Sharp has a slider and change in addition to his sinker, and has posted impressive ground ball rates over the last few seasons...Sharp projects as a #5 starter or middle relief type, but could potentially be a bit more.
Footage of Sharp from the Arizona Fall League helps illustrate his unique delivery (via Emily Waldon):
Although a midseason injury limited Sharp’s appearances as a 24-year-old, he has a career high of 148 1⁄3 innings pitched (set in 2018). So if he were to impress the Marlins enough to earn a back-end rotation spot, there wouldn’t necessarily be any cap on his 2020 workload.
Cool nugget on new Marlin Sterling Sharp— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) December 12, 2019
He has a 60.5% ground ball rate since 2018. Out of all the pitchers with 200+ IP in the minors over that span, Sharp's GB% is 5th-highest.
In the first Rule 5 Draft under new ownership, the Marlins selected right-handers Brett Graves and Elieser Hernandez—both are still in the organization, though Hernandez is suddenly attracting trade interest, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports. Then in 2018, the club picked (and later returned) right-hander Riley Ferrell. They also claimed right-hander Julian Fernández, whose Rule 5 status had carried over from the previous year. Fernández experienced setbacks in his rehab from Tommy John surgery and was returned to the Rockies in October.
With MLB active rosters expanding from 25 spots to 26 next season, Sharp has a decent chance of sticking with the Fish. Rule 5 selections must spend at least 90 days on the active roster the following season and cannot be optioned to the minors during that time.
As expected, the Marlins did not lose any of their own talent during the major league phase of the draft. However, Panamanian outfielder Jhonny Santos was selected by the Mariners in the Triple-A phase, while the club added catcher Julian Leon from the Dodgers organization. Expect Leon to be a non-roster invitee to spring training.
As of early Thursday afternoon, the Marlins 40-man roster is completely full.