Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Men don’t care what’s on TV. They only care what else is on TV.” This is analogous to our relationship with baseball and prospects. We don’t always care who’s currently on the team. We care who might someday be on the team. Which brings us to Magneuris Sierra.
A lot of St. Louis Cardinal fans, myself included, were a bit surprised when Sierra was selected as the Cardinals’ Minor League Player of the Year last month alongside Marco Gonzales, who was given the same award for pitchers. Surprised because other than hearing his name in passing a few times, I really didn’t know much about him. Unlike Gonzales, who made his debut on June 25th and had an established role with the club during the 2014 postseason, Sierra seemed to have sprung up from nowhere.
So who is he?
Sierra is an 18-year-old outfielder from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, who came up through the Cardinals Dominican Academy. He is the second player from the Dominican Academy to win this award following the late Oscar Taveras, who won in 2012. According to most sources, he bats left and throws left. However, at least one reputable site lists him batting right and throwing right although this is directly below a picture of him clearly batting left.
Nevertheless, he does indeed bat from the left side and he does it well. In 2014, he hit an impressive .386/.434/.505 in 223 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast League. He also led the league with 78 hits. At 5-foot-11 and 160 lbs., his running is more prominent than his slugging as evidenced by his two home runs to go along with 13 stolen bases in 16 attempts. And his defense in center field seems to be considered above average across the board.
So what does this mean?
Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe nothing. As of right now, it’s hard to find a source that has Sierra ranked all that high. The GCL is also the Cardinals lowest affiliate in the United States and Sierra only played 52 games at that level. Browse through the list of past winners of this award, which dates back to 1995, and you’ll see plenty of names who never really contributed at the MLB level. And, as Ben Humphrey pointed out on a recent Viva El Birdos podcast, this award is decided within the organization rather than by outside observers. In other words, we aren’t really privy to the parameters that define this award nor to any special motivation, if it exists, in handing it out.
On the other hand, Sierra’s slash line is quite good no matter who’s pitching. His 2014 was “nothing short of amazing” as stated by Brian Walton, who covers the Cardinals farm system for Scout.com. Beat writer Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Jose Carrano, the manager of the Mets’ GCL affiliate, called Sierra “the most exciting player in the division.”
Reading the tea leaves, Sierra isn’t going to be taking at-bats at the major league level in the immediate future and he might not even start the 2015 season at Class-A Peoria. But if his production in 2014 was enough to get the attention of the Cardinals organization and to generate such high praise from qualified observers, then it’s not too early to start paying notice.Next post: Call it a Dead-Arm Phase: Notes on My DL Stint
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