I have read a few reports online suggesting that following St. Louis Cardinals prospect Magneuris Sierra’s impressive spring with the big league club, he should start the 2017 season with AA Springfield. While he was optioned to minor league cam plast week, this would be an unusual, but not unprecedented move as both Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong also skipped high-A. I believe it would be in Sierra’s best interest to begin the season with high-A Palm Beach. He is still just 20 years old, and will play most of the 2017 season at 21.
Magneuris Sierra was just ranked The Redbird Daily’s #10 prospect. Make sure you check out what John and Kyle have to say.
With Dexter Fowler signed for five years and Harrison Bader looking to man centerfield in Memphis, there is no reason to rush Sierra’s development. Following a breakout 2014 campaign in rookie ball, Sierra was aggressively assigned to low-A to start the 2015 season and struggled greatly (.191 BA / .219 OBP), resulting in a demotion back to Rookie level Johnson City. Even though his glove appears to be Major League ready, there is no reason to rush his offensive development.
By competing in the notoriously pitcher friendly Florida State League, he will be challenged to further develop his batted ball and on-base skills. I see a quick promotion to the Texas League proving to be risky on two different fronts. First, Sierra would be competing against pitchers of far more skill and development than what he faced in low-A, which could result in him struggling greatly and receiving a demotion reminiscent of 2015. He will also be almost four years younger than the league average and under unnecessary pressure to perform being just a trip a phone call away from St. Louis.
On the other side of the coin, the hitter friendliness of the Texas League could possibly lead to falsely inflated offensive stats rather than giving a true gauge of his readiness for AAA or the majors. Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch, wrote about this very topic last week. Sierra had a very productive offensive season in 2016 with Peoria, but his power has still yet to develop (10 career Minor League homeruns). Also, his .335 on-base percentage leaves a lot to be desired for a future leadoff hitter supposing his power does not develop. His on-base percentage has dropped at each level over the last three years from .434 to .371 and finally .335 last year. The small separation in his batting average of .307 and on-base percentage is driven by a significant difference in walks versus strikeouts. Sierra had only 22 walks in 2017 versus 97 strikeouts.
With a logjam of outfielders in St. Louis and Memphis, allowing Sierra to begin in high-A and earn a possible mid-season promotion to Springfield would make more sense long-term. In all likelihood he will end the 2017 season with Springfield, why unnecessarily rush his development and risk possible regression?
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