The Situation: The Cardinals have lost three outfielders in as many days. Thursday night, Dexter Fowler strained his right shoulder after a diving catch attempt. In the same game, Stephen Piscotty strained his right hamstring, which later forced him to the disabled list. Two nights later, Jose Martinez came up limping while legging out a dribbler because of a groin injury. Though the Red Birds called up outfielder Tommy Pham on Friday in the corresponding DL move, they also have another outfielder coming with Martinez’s imminent DL transaction. All the way from Single-A, we have Magneuris Sierra.
The Background: Turning 21 years old a month ago, the Dominican-born prospect was signed in 2012 for the bargain price of $105,000. He promptly started his career in 2013, playing 97 percent of his innings at center field and the remaining action in right field. He has advanced a level each season, reaching High-A Palm Beach this year. Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Sierra will see MLB time shoring up the Cardinals' defense.
Scouting Report: Sierra has the tools to be an everyday center fielder, including plus instincts, speed, glove, and athleticism. And while a plus arm is not necessarily required for center field, he has one of those too. The concern is his pitch recognition, which goes hand in hand with his plate discipline. He's always been young for each level and has a propensity to chase pitches outside of the strike zone, posting a 149/29 K/BB ratio in 173 total games at Single-A. Sierra also has limited power, but can hit doubles and triples—and turn singles into extra-base hits with his speed.
Immediate Big League Future: Sierra is unlikely to stick around long term this time. This move is only to shore up the holes in the outfield defense while the previously mentioned outfielders recoup. Pham manned center field Saturday night, Fowler is not expected to hit the DL, and Piscotty should only require a short stay on the shelf. Even if Piscotty requires more time, Sierra’s inability to pick up pitches will be exploited by guys with much better command.