CLEVELAND -- Spring training was just weeks away and Sixto Sanchez’s right elbow was finally feeling better when he received a phone call from a member of the Phillies’ front office.

Sanchez, the team’s top pitching prospect, was told by special assistant Jorge Velandia that he had been traded to Miami. Sanchez, who turns 21 this month, had signed with the Phillies in the Dominican Republic when he was 16. He grew up with a Phillies ‘P’ on his cap. Now Sanchez was a Marlin. He was gutted.

“I told him, ‘I thought it was never going to happen, but OK, thank you,’” Sanchez said. “In the moment I even cried.”

The Phillies traded Sixto Sanchez for J.T. Realmuto.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
The Phillies traded Sixto Sanchez for J.T. Realmuto.

The Phillies traded Sanchez, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and left-hander Will Stewart in exchange for catcher J.T. Realmuto. Sanchez represented the Marlins on Sunday night at Progressive Field in the Futures Game. Realmuto will represent the Phillies on Tuesday at the All-Star Game.

Sanchez had a 2.77 ERA in his first nine starts at double A Jacksonville before he was roughed up in his last start before flying to Cleveland. The right-hander has 58 strikeouts and 12 walks in 55⅔ innings. Sanchez said he is fully recovered from the elbow injury that limited him last season to just eight starts with high-A Clearwater.

“Honestly, I was really surprised. I would have never imagined that they would have traded me,” Sanchez said. “I wasn’t prepared for it. But once I came to terms with it, I said ‘OK. I’m traded now and I’m going to work hard.’”

Sanchez said he has followed the Phillies since moving to the Marlins. He kept tabs on Realmuto and knew he was an All-Star after finishing the first half with a .766 OPS and being one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. It’s an honor, Sanchez said, to be traded for a player of that caliber. And if he continues to progress toward the majors, Sanchez will have plenty of chances to see his old organization in person.

“I would really like to pitch against them,” he said.