With extremely young, raw prospects, it is unreasonable to expect a linear development. With the talented Magneuris Sierra, it has been no different. Importantly, though, Sierra has rebounded tremendously after a rough 2015 campaign .
Baseball has the toughest developmental gauntlet in all of sports. Moving up the chain becomes significantly more difficult with each promotion. For this reason, players must frequently adjust, upping their game to match the skill of their opponents. Such adjustments can pose a huge issue for young, un-polished ball players, for they lack the necessary tools to adjust tactically on the fly.
Due to the difficulty of constantly improving, young, raw talents usually take longer to develop. They require patience as they learn to cope with failure, learning from it and getting better. In the bad times, organizations must stick with their prospects, acknowledging that failure is inevitable for the great majority of young players. In some cases, a minor league demotion may be ideal, as the prospect can regain the confidence needed to resume the uphill battle.
For Magneuris Sierra, this was exactly the case. Sierra, a left-handed center fielder from the Dominican Republic, started off his minor league career red-hot. Specifically, Sierra tore up the Gulf Coast League, hitting .386 in 202 at-bats. Due to such success, the Cardinals felt that Sierra deserved to play the 2015 season in full-season A. As it turned out, however, Sierra was not ready for the challenge. He hit .191 in 178 at-bats, striking out 52 times. Due to his sub-par performance, Cardinals executives elected to demote him to rookie ball at the end of the 2015 season. Sierra closed out the season in a strong fashion.
Due to a strong close to the 2015 season, the Cardinals faced a tough dilemma: Should they return Sierra to A, or keep in rookie for one more season? At only 20 years of age, the Cardinals made the conservative call, choosing to keep Sierra in A with the Johnson City Cardinals. To say the least, the moved paid off for the talented young prospect.
With only three games to play, Sierra’s stats are impressive. After finishing 2015 in a good way, he upped his game, showing consistency like never before. To be precise, Sierra currently has a .311 batting average in 501 at-bats. While this number may not match up with his 2014 campaign (.386), Sierra has had more than double the at-bats this season. In this way, he has demonstrated a consistency like we have never seen before. Furthermore, Sierra has a lower strike out percentage, 28 doubles, and 31 stolen bases. Just last night, Sierra had 4 hits in 4 at-bats (2 doubles).
— Derek Shore (@D_Shore23) August 30, 2016
In this particular case, the Cardinals showed phenomenal patience with a talented young prospect. Having come into the organization at such a young age, there should be absolutely no rush to optimize the impact of Sierra at the big league level. If all continues to go in a positive manner, we could see a dynamic force at the big league level. Sierra has the potential to lead off a line up, hitting for average, stealing bases, and playing solid defense.
Just like with Kolten Wong earlier in the season, the Cardinals were not afraid to demote a player with phenomenal potential. With Sierra, this move could pay dividends down the line.