St. Louis Cardinals’ 2016 Top Prospects: #3 Magneuris Sierra

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Today we talk about a St. Louis Cardinals’ prospect who has probably the most potential out of any position player in the system.

It’s not often team’s get a shot at a true superstar. Some of the St. Louis Cardinals‘ prospects that we have already talked about could very well become really good players at the major league level. However, not many of them have the potential to become a true superstar and household name. The Cardinals are lucky to have one in their system who could potentially be one of the greatest players to come out of a talented system in a long time.

Many people were saying last season that Magneuris Sierra had as much potential as the late Oscar Taveras had. They were saying that he possessed an elite skill set that would propel him into being a star one day. I have been high on him for a while, and believe that the young kid from the Dominican Republic has as much or maybe more potential as anyone in the system.

So, what is there to like about Sierra?

#3 Magneuris Sierra OF

Season Stats: 

AgeTmLevGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
19Johnson CityRk532392163868803151521942.315.371.394.765
19PeoriaA511901781934131745752.191.219.247.466

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Scout Grade:  Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50*

Analysis: Sierra has been widely thought of as the best position player prospect in the Cardinals’ system. He had a magnificent first season on American soil last season with the GCL Cardinals, where he slashed  .386/.434/.505 and won the MVP award for the GCL. 

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Most thought he was poised for another dominant season, and the Cardinals wanted to test him a bit and see just how advanced his bat was, as they started him off in Peoria. This did not work out well, as Sierra struggled out of the gates with the Chiefs hitting just .191 in 51 games with Peoria.

The Cardinals then sent him down to Johnson City, where Sierra got back on track and showed a bit more power with 11 extra base-hits in 53 games. Sierra has a really good bat and has the ability to hit for a high average and consistently make good contact. He doesn’t quite have home run power yet, but he has shown good gap power in his brief career.

What makes Sierra stand out at the plate is his bat speed and above average plate discipline. This allows him to be very comfortable in the box and gives him the ability to really turn on a pitch, not in the way of Kolten Wong, but in a much more smooth and less violent way. While they may be the same size, Wong is not a good comp for Sierra’s plate approach. Sierra has a more stand up approach than Wong who has that patented coiled stance that allows him to unleash his violent swing.

The Red Baron on the tools that Magneuris Sierra shows, has this to say, “Sierra is the fastest runner and best center fielder in the system, better even than Charlie Tilson, whose glove tends to get plenty of love around the minors. Sierra might legitimately grade as a 70 runner, and a 65 or 70 defender.” This is pretty impressive for a guy who already has shown an unique ability to get on base and to hit albeit only at the lower levels.

This suggests that not only can Sierra potentially be an advanced hitter, but he could be an elite baserunner and fielder as well. Derek Shore of Scout.com quotes Hudson Belinksy of Baseball America as saying “Sierra is just a guy, who tools just excited. He’s a guy that is going to play up-the-middle defense, have some feel to hit, good line-drive hitter and good speed.” However, in the same piece, Brian Walton doesn’t even see Sierra as a top 10 prospect for the Cardinals.

Walton’s concern lies in his disbelief that a guy who is 5’11 160 is going to develop into a power hitter, and that Sierra’s RBI production and average with RISP weren’t great. To me this is just finding things to nitpick at. RBI production is not a concern at this level, and his average with RISP isn’t either. These are both things that will come with time.

Sierra might legitimately grade out as a 70 runner, and a 65 or 70 defender

As for the power, some scouts believe that the power “could” come as he develops and fills out his frame, but that is not a given. I will say I have seen Sierra hit only once in a highlight, in that highlight he hit a homer. For me as a non scout, it is easy to see that his power will come with his bat speed.

It is easy to see what makes Sierra good, he’s got a good approach and great speed that should lend him well throughout the system. Derrick Goold projects Sierra to have the kind of “anticipation” that came with Oscar Taveras and John Manuel of Baseball America believes that Sierra is likely a top 100 prospect in MLB. Manuel also believes that Sierra has the most upside potential in the system among position players.

Next: Cardinals' 2016 Top Prospects: #4 Luke Weaver

Roster Prediction: A Peoria

This season and placement will be a big determining factor in Sierra’s development. I would assume that the sweet swinging lefty will make the adjustment and find himself dominating yet another league. This will be an interesting year for the potential future star, one that will either bring more questions or answers.

If you have missed any of our “Top Prospects” series, you can check them out here.

Scout Grade Via MLB.com

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