Jose Martinez (Dennis Wierzbicki / USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals lost outfielder/first baseman Jose Martinez to injury and promoted outfielder Magneuris Sierra from A+ Palm Beach.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost outfielder/first baseman Jose Martinez to injury and promoted outfielder Magneuris Sierra from high-A Palm Beach.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Sunday) that outfielder/first baseman Jose Martinez (left groin) has been placed on the 10-day disabled list and that rookie outfielder Magneuris Sierra has been recalled from Palm Beach (A), and will join the team for this afternoon’s game in Atlanta.

http://www.scout.com/player/118230-jose-martinez?s=321

Sierra, 21, will be making his first appearance in the majors.  The left-handed hitting native of San Cristobol, Dominican Republic, was the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year in 2014 after leading the Gulf Coast League with a .386 batting average and a .434 on-base pct.

http://www.scout.com/player/171618-magneuris-sierra?s=321

Sierra was batting .272 (22-for-81) with a .337 on-base pct. for Palm Beach, ranking T2nd in the Florida State League with four triples in his 20 games played.   In 361 career games in the minors, Sierra has compiled a .297 batting average with a .345 on-base pct. and 81 stolen bases.

Sierra joins Albert Pujols (2001) and Miguel Mejia (1996) as the most recent Cardinals’ position players to debut at age 21. He has been assigned uniform no. 43.

The Cardinals have had three of their outfielders suffer injuries in the past three days, including Stephen Piscotty (right hamstring), Dexter Fowler (right shoulder) and now Martinez.  Fowler remains on the active roster and his availability remains day-to-day, while both Piscotty and Martinez have been placed on the 10-day disabled list.

Martinez, 28, was batting .313 with a homer and 4 RBI in 20 games, ranking among National League rookie leaders in batting.

 

Brian Walton’s take

To say the promotion of Sierra, whose first name is pronounced mahg-NEAR-ee, is a surprise is putting it mildly. But, should it really be considered a surprise?

On one hand, Sierra impressed in big-league camp this spring and has been playing well over the first month-plus. Further, he is the only outfielder who is on the 40-man roster who was not already in St. Louis. The Cardinal Nation’s ninth-ranked prospect has already used the first of his three allowable minor league option seasons anyway, and whatever small amount of MLB service time he accrues now should not be significant in his eventual free agent picture.

Then again, the Cardinals already have an open spot on their 40-man roster and could easily create another if needed by moving Alex Reyes to the 60-day disabled list. So, why did the club not just add a veteran outfielder from Memphis such as Chad Huffman or Todd Cunningham as a stop-gap who could be removed from the 40-man at any time without major concern over the ramifications?

The answer appears to be that they believe Sierra has the best chance of contributing. His opportunity will be immediate, as manager Mike Matheny penciled the 21-year old into his Sunday lineup in center field.

OK, but if Sierra was really this close to the majors, why in the heck has he been playing in high-A Palm Beach, a level to which it seems likely he will never return? His defense is said to be MLB-ready, but the rest of his game still has a ways to go.

Sure, there are other outfielders in the organization ahead of him, at least on paper, notably Sierra’s fellow top prospect Harrison Bader at Memphis plus Adolis Garcia and Oscar Mercado at Springfield, but Sierra’s call up means he was really on top all of the time. The power of his 40-man roster spot trumps all.

In a lively Saturday night discussion on Twitter, one commenter reminded me that general manager John Mozeliak has mentioned repeatedly that the Cardinals, currently 15-14 on the season, need to get out of their comfort zone. Adding a Huffman or Cunningham would been comfortable. Promoting Bader would have been understandable.

Instead, the organization made a move that I believe is a first for them – promoting a non-rehabbing player directly from high-A to St. Louis.

If that is not “out of their comfort zone,” I don’t know what is.

 

Footnote: According to Jen Langosch of MLB.com, Miguel Mejia (also mentioned above) was promoted from Class A to St. Louis in 1996. However, since that move was required because of the outfielder's selection in the Rule 5 Draft, it is not totally comparable.


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