Home: San Cristobal, Dominican Republic
Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (11): Magneuris Sierra began receiving votes as early ast #7 courtesy of HighJump. The community as a whole was a bit less high on Sierra, but still gave him the majority vote at #11.
SoonerinNC believes Sierra to be one of the most intriguing prospects in the Cardinals system. He mentioned that Sierra capped off his dominant year with a promotion to Johnson City for the playoff run. CardsInChitown gave us a somber warning saying that he does not believe Sierra will develop the power needed to garner the “5-tool” label everyone is citing. I will cap this recap with UncleDenny, who said the word is that Sierra is a very hard worker and has a great attitude. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: Say hello to a prospect who has a chance to be the biggest impact positional prospect to come out of the Dominican since Oscar Taveras. Literally an unknown when at the academy in the Dominican last year, a year later Sierra’s .386 batting average, the Gulf Coast League-leading mark, drew attention. The 18-year-old was so phenomenal in his first year stateside that he was named the 2014 Cardinals organization Minor League Player of the Year.
There’s a lot to like about Sierra, including his up-the-middle profile that should continually get better as he grows into his body, along with his bat control. He has also grabbed the attention of national prospect writers who say he has plus bat speed with a short, compact swing with natural left-handed lift. They also note that he has the potential to be a plus hitter down the road as he matures. Not only does his hit tool grade out as a potential plus, but his manager Steve Turco described him as a “potential five-tool player who will develop easy power”.
Turco, a former pro scout, also said that Sierra “plays much bigger” than his 5-foot-11, 160 pounds. “He has a good swing, a good approach; it’s going to be hard to stop him from hitting, especially at the lower levels, but I think he will hit at all levels,” Turco said.
Defensively, Sierra is said to be one of the finest at his position in the lower leagues and is expected to be an above-average defender. One Gulf Coast League manager said that Sierra was one of the most exciting players in the division in 2014.
He is obviously a long way off from becoming the next Taveras, but is off to a good start stateside. I believe Sierra is a strong candidate to return to extended spring training then open with a short-season club for the upcoming season. I also would not be all that surprised if he impressed so much during spring that they will challenge him with a full-season assignment.
Brian Walton (20): Sierra’s 2014 was nothing short of amazing. As I have noted before, his batting average has not been exceeded by any player in the system in over four decades. He also led the entire Cardinals system in on-base percentage this season and was second in slugging and OPS to Rowan Wick. Sierra was recognized as the Gulf Coast League Player of the Year.
Yet my barely-top 20 ranking for Sierra indicates that I am holding back a bit. I want to see more. Here are some reasons why. His 2014 breakout came on the heels of a .269 batting mark in the Dominican Summer League in 2013.
Further, his GCL season was just 52 games. As we saw with Wick’s home run feats at State College this summer, some very impressive results can be generated in short bursts when a player is ahead of his competition. It is also worth noting that Sierra’s BABIP was a lusty and likely unsustainable .444.
Though it was only a half-dozen at-bats, I watched Sierra get fooled by a couple of quality breaking balls during instructional league. It will be important to see how he performs against pitching more advanced than that which he saw in the GCL.
To help keep the hype in check, another point to remember is that Sierra has been called a POTENTIAL five-tool player. That is very different than asserting that he already IS one. We are still talking about an 18-year-old who had a couple of phenomenal months at the lowest level of play in the US.
Cardinals minor league hitting coordinator Derrick May definitely sees the potential in Sierra, but also emphasized how raw of a player he is at this point.
“He is an exciting player,” May noted this fall during instructional league camp. “He can do a number of things offensively and defensively. He is a really, really raw toolsy-type of player who has a ton of talent.”
Sierra’s defensive prowess does not appear on the stat sheet, but he is advanced beyond his age in that aspect of his game. It is a plus that he mans an up-the-middle position in centerfield.
Having been a Major League outfielder for 10 years, May knows a bit about playing out there and he did not qualify his opinion of Sierra in the field in any way.
“He plays centerfield like nobody else can,” May flatly stated. “He is fun to watch.”
Since like it or not, Sierra is going to be benchmarked against Taveras - at least until he proves he shouldn’t - let’s make a quick comparison of the two.
First of all, Sierra is considerably smaller – three inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than was Taveras at the same age.
It should also be remembered that Oscar skipped over the GCL and excelled in the Appalachian League in his first year in the US - while at the same age as Sierra in 2014. The next spring, Taveras was able to successfully make the jump to the Midwest League (where ironically, he batted .386, same as Sierra this season), but he was better prepared by his time in the Appy League, as it is a higher level of play with far more college-seasoned pitching.
I sense that placing Sierra at Class-A Peoria to open 2015 would be unnecessarily rushing him. But no matter where he plays next summer, all eyes will be on whether he can repeat his 2014 breakout.
Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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