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Jesús Sánchez is here to play, not to “save” the Marlins season

One of the Marlins’ top prospects should get the chance to establish himself as a regular in the corner outfield spots.

Jesus Sanchez #76 of the Miami Marlins prepares for a pitch during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Tuesday afternoon, Craig Mish broke the news that many of us had been eagerly awaiting for several weeks: the Marlins are recalling Jesús Sánchez from Triple-A Jacksonville. He’s expected to be available to play on Wednesday (expect several roster moves between now and then).

Sánchez’s 2021 offensive numbers down on the farm were spectacular. He had been leading all Marlins minor leaguers in batting average and total bases. The Dominican outfielder also racked up six assists in 29 games as a defender. His dominance earned him a Triple-A East Player of the Week award and vaulted him back onto the Baseball America and MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospect lists.

He was having a lot of fun with the Jumbo Shrimp.

Fish Stripes original GIF

As a refresher, Sánchez was held in high regard when he received his first call-up in August 2020. He’s got special bat speed that produces tape-measure home runs, plus enough athleticism to contribute in the other facets of the game. However, that major league stint was short-lived—the then-22-year-old slashed .040/.172/.080 with 11 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances and made reckless decisions in the field. He was overmatched.

It has never been more difficult to prognosticate how minor leaguers will handle their transition to The Show. Consensus top talents Jarred Kelenic and Cristian Pache, for example, couldn’t hit a lick earlier this season for the Mariners and Braves, respectively. Daniel Lynch was deemed ready to step into the Royals starting rotation; after allowing 14 earned runs in eight innings, the club reconsidered.

Anybody who guarantees that Sánchez will/won’t succeed in his return to the active roster is not worth listening to. We simply need to observe him in action, which is why I recommended that the Marlins get the ball rolling even sooner, to maximize his reps.

The Marlins are not recalling Sánchez with expectations that he will change the course of their mediocre season. He’s up to fill the void created by Garrett Cooper’s and Corey Dickerson’s concurrent injuries. The steady playing time will be there, and if he thrives, that’s a great “problem” to have once one or both of those veterans are healthy again.

Entering Tuesday’s game, the Marlins find themselves in the NL East cellar at 29-37, eight games back of the Mets and even farther behind the NL Wild Card leaders. The back end of their starting rotation is—I don’t think there’s a gentler way of putting it—a clusterfuck. Brian Anderson cannot be activated from the IL until late July (at the earliest). They lack the depth to withstand these setbacks and the motivation to acquire established difference-makers via trade. The most generous estimate you’ll find for their playoff odds is 1.4%.

By keeping Sánchez in Jacksonville for as long as they did, the Marlins gained an extra year of club control over him (through the 2027 season). Frankly, I can’t blame them for that. Every decision that Miami makes the rest of this summer must balance the present and the future, and when forced to choose a lane, prioritize the future.

Just for fun, my rest-of-season projections for Sánchez with the Marlins: .248/.303/.448, 13 HR, 4 SB in 280 PA.