Most Instriguing Prospects at Instructional League
By Chris Gigley
Magneuris Sierra, OF (Johnson City/Peoria)
Credit: Bret Jacomet/Johnson City Cardinals
Signed out the Dominican Republic in 2012 for a mere $105,000, Sierra may go down in Cardinals lore as the organization’s best Latin signing ever. Hyperbole perhaps, but the 19-year-old outfielder has the goods. In 2014, his first in the States, he led the Gulf Coast League in hits (78) and batting average (.386), and the Cardinals named him the Minor League Player of the Year.
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The late Oscar Taveras is the only other graduate of the Cardinals’ Dominican Academy to do that, and Sierra seems to be on a similar developmental path. Sierra sprays the ball to all fields and has more discipline than most other players his age. He also has better wheels than Taveras did, which is why Sierra profiles as a centerfielder.
Then again, his rocket arm means he could be a nice fit in rightfield, too. If he can adjust his flat swing to get some loft on the ball, he could blossom into a power hitting corner outfielder. He’s already shown he can handle adversity. The Cardinals were encouraged enough by his breakout 2014 to start Sierra in low-A Peoria this year, but he struggled against pitchers who could consistently locate their breaking balls.
On June 9, hitting just .179, the Cards sent him to rookie-level Johnson City, where he got his groove back (.315 BA and .371 OBP) and was named an Appalachian League All-Star. So relax, Cardinal Nation. Sierra is back on track and learning to hit those breaking balls with authority at instructs this fall.