With Cardinals’ outfielders seemingly dropping like flies this week – and the team still curiously playing with a short bench – they have been forced to make moves. First it was a recall of Tommy Pham in response to Stephen Piscotty hitting the DL and Dexter Fowler getting banged up. Ho-hum, we’ve seen him before and he’s been raking at Memphis, so it was both deserved and predictable. Then there was Jose Martinez, doing his best Michael Jackson impersonation on the way to first base yesterday. Joking aside, he heads to the DL with a groin injury. In the emergency situation, we saw a Matt Adams cameo in LF, which is the correct use of him as an OF and the exact reason you give him reps in spring.
In need of an OF, the Cardinals again turn to the minor leagues. Despite having an open spot on the 40-man roster to add literally any OF in the system, and still having the flexibility to move Alex Reyes to the 60-day DL to free up yet another space, they have elected to promote Magneuris Sierra straight from High-A Palm Beach. Sierra was the only other OF on the 40-man roster, but again it’s interesting that he will be making the jump from High-A when there was room to add players such as Chad Huffman or Todd Cunningham from AAA on a fill-in basis.
What’s the story, morning glory?
Sierra is the #7 prospect in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He is #5 according to Baseball America. Also, he stands at #10 in our own Redbird Daily rankings, #1 in your hearts, and #43 on your scorecard this afternoon.
So far this season, Sierra is slashing .272/.337/.407 at Palm Beach with 16 R, 9 RBI and 0 HR. Forget that last stat because power isn’t part of his game anyway. He is a speed/defense player that they hope will continue developing his top of the order contact/on-base profile. His speed and defense are major league ready, his bat is the reason he is only at High-A. Another factor in this promotion is that, because he was already on the 40-man roster, the Cardinals had to burn one of his option years to send him to the minors out of Spring Training. Considering the option was already used whether or not he appeared in the Majors this season, it makes sense to promote him rather than burn an option on another player. Especially true if the plan is for him to only hang around for a few weeks.
The coaching staff is very high on him. I credit Benjamin Hochman of the Post-Dispatch with digging up this Matheny quote from Spring Training:
“I had a major-league coach come up and ask if Sierra was making our club,” Cards manager Mike Matheny shared. “And I said, ‘First of all, tell me why?’ And he saw him go get a couple balls and said ‘This guy can flat-play,’ and I said, ‘The only problem is he’s only played low-A ball,’ which kind of blew him away. And we had that last year in that one (spring training) game when we brought him up – he was a game-changer. And I think he’s got that capability in him. Just an exciting player.”
Let me first say, I am very excited to see this 21-year old kid play ball. However, it behooves us to be pragmatic.
Within a span of 24 hours, Mags Sierra will go from starting in CF in A-ball to starting in CF for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is in Sunday’s starting lineup, unfortunately taking his first MLB at-bat against knuckballer, R.A. Dickey. I expect him to see the field quite a bit over the next few days as Dexter Fowler fully recovers from his shoulder injury. As of yesterday he was reported as saying it was just a matter of general soreness at this point. I expect Sierra to see limited at-bats and at most one or two starts once Fowler returns to the field. When that happens the Cardinals can very easily deploy an outfield of Pham, Fowler, and Grichuk in every game through May 22nd. This is because, starting with the Miami series, the Cardinals will have an off day following each of the next four series.
And for how long?
That May 22nd off day is 15 days away and comes immediately prior to a West Coast road trip. Considering that Piscotty will have had 18 days of healing and Martinez 15, I expect that one (if not both) will be activated by then and that Sierra does not make the trip West.
On the flip side, I remembered a story about Vince Coleman‘s promotion to the majors in 1985. He too was a “temporary” fill-in due to injuries. Coleman would go on to steal 110 bases and the Rookie-of-the-Year. (He could not, however, out run and automatic tarp during the postseason). This is a great segment from the book Fleeter than Birds: The 1985 St. Louis Cardinals and Small Ball’s Last Hurrah by Doug Feldmann.
Upon his arrival in St. Louis, Coleman was called in by Maxvill for a private meeting. “Look, Vince,” he began, “You’ve had a nice spring [despite the fact he bated under .200], but I want you to realize, right now, that you’re only going to be with us for about a week, and then you’ll be sent to Louisville.”Coleman politely nodded, and responded. “Yes, Mr. Maxvill, I understand. But I want you to know that I’m going to be here the whole year.”Maxvill smiled and said, “That’s great, Vince. I want you to have all the confidence in the world. But you have to understand that once McGee is healthy, you’ll be sent back down to Louisville.”Once again, Coleman affirmed the denial. “Yes, Mr. Maxvill, I understand. But I want you to know that I’m going to be here the whole year.”
Mama, Let Him Play
Maybe he’ll just be here a few weeks, or maybe he’ll pull a Vince Coleman. If that happens then the Cardinals will have to make some decisions regarding the roster and what positions guys are playing, but I’ll leave that speculation for another day. For now, lets enjoy watching this exciting young player while we have the chance.
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