The Marlins’ struggle to identify and develop offensive talent has been well-documented in recent years. It’s no secret that, at the moment, Miami lacks that “blue-chip” position player prospect in the system. That’s why it was so important that, in 2021, Jesús Sánchez made a strong case that he belongs in the Marlins every day lineup. In his second stint in the big leagues, Sánchez slashed .251/.304/.808 in 64 games played, good for a 1.3 Wins Above Replacement in 2021.
Sánchez, along with Ryne Stanek, was acquired by Miami at the 2019 trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards. At the time, Sánchez was ranked highly by talent evaluators, including 48th on Baseball America’s Top 100 MLB prospects list. It was a phenomenal get by then-President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill.
While Sánchez lost the entire minor league season in 2020, he did make his MLB debut that year, albeit inauspiciously, going 1-for-25 with 11 strikeouts in 29 PA.
But then Sánchez began 2021 at Triple-A Jacksonville by going absolutely bananas. He slashed .348/.406/.652, good for 1.059 OPS in 155 PA. That tear compelled Miami to give him his next big league opportunity. Outside of a COVID-related stint on the injured list, he became a mainstay in the Marlins lineup from June 15 until the end of the season.
Room to improve
While Sánchez was productive last year at the big league level, there are some kinks the young outfielder needs to address. For one, Sánchez struck out in 31.1% of his at bats last season. While the percentage is not horrible, there is definitely room for improvement regarding putting the ball in play because when he does, it can go a long way. According to Baseball Savant, Sánchez’s max exit velocity ranked in the top 9% of Major League Baseball.
The Marlins would also like to see Sánchez walk more. He only took 20 free passes in 251 plate appearances in 2021, as his lowly .319 OBP attests.
While Sánchez is an athletic outfielder, that does not directly translate to effective defense. Yes, he accumulated 2 OAA (Outs Above Average) last season and 3 assists in the outfield, but that came with 5 errors. His “Outfield Jump” time was in the top 3% of the league.
A trend working in Sánchez’s favor is his ability to hit same-handed pitching. He actually had a higher batting average vs lefties (.257 BA) than against righties (.248) in 2021, although, expectedly, he did hit for more power against right-handed pitchers.
While Sánchez has yet to play a full Major League season, he has already shown his ability to translate his raw power into results at the major league level, slugging .489 in 64 games last year. He was on pace to hit 35 home runs over a full 162.
Give sandy 10 more innings like this and we’ll call it even pic.twitter.com/Xcci8PUg9g— Isaac Azout (@IsaacAzout) August 28, 2021
After being unable to pull the trigger on an offseason trade to upgrade at center field, the Marlins are leaning toward making Sánchez their primary option at that position. After not getting any reps there in 2020 or 2021, he started three of the club’s first four Grapefruit League games in CF.
2022 will be a vital year for the Miami Marlins, and Jesús Sánchez will be a big part of it.
Over/Under 24.5 home runs for Jesús Sánchez this season?
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