Perhaps it was the time he spent in the Major Leagues last season with the Cardinals. Or maybe it was the trade from the only organization he's known.Whatever the case, Magneuris Sierra wasn't quite himself to start the season, his first in the Miami system.
Perhaps it was the time he spent in the Major Leagues last season with the Cardinals. Or maybe it was the trade from the only organization he's known.
Whatever the case, Magneuris Sierra wasn't quite himself to start the season, his first in the Miami system.
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On Saturday, the Marlins' No. 6 prospect took a big step toward turning around his year.
Sierra, acquired as part of the deal involving slugging outfielder Marcell Ozuna, tripled, doubled and singled twice as Triple-A New Orleans held off Nashville, 8-6.
"You never know what they're thinking," Baby Cakes hitting coach and former Major Leaguer Tommy Gregg said of Sierra. "I'm sure that's in his mind. But I don't see that with him; he's a nice kid, emotionally under control. My job is to get the intensity up and we're working with an adjustment in his swing to quicken up his hands, and it was amazing to see how it helped him tonight."
Sierra entered the game with 14 hits in 73 at-bats (.192) and had struck out 22 times while walking twice. The fleet-footed center fielder batted .317./.359/.317 in a 20-game stint in the Majors with the Cardinals a year ago, showing he wasn't overmatched while playing his usual stellar defense.
Sierra's play in the bigs was part of the reason he was a sought-after piece by the rebuilding Marlins.
The biggest red flag for scouts is his lack of impact with the bat. Scouts praise his plus defense and plus-plus speed but are unsure he'll have extra-base power. As a pro, the 5-foot-11, 160-pounder has 11 homers in 1,813 at-bats.
"He has the potential to hit for power, but do you want a guy like this thinking about power?," Gregg said. "If he puts a good swing on it and hits it out, great, but being more consistent is the key for him. He needs to understand the plan and process the Marlins want him to go through and get back to the Major Leagues because he is a key part of the organization."
On Saturday, at least, Sierra broke out by tripling to right field in the first, lining a double to right in the third, singling hard to right in the fourth and reaching on an infield single in the sixth. He had a chance to tie his career high of five hits -- set on Aug. 28, 2014 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League -- but flied out in the seventh.
"The thing was we had to work on his back side and back foot," said Gregg, who played nine seasons in the bigs with the Pirates, Braves, Reds and Marlins. "He was swinging with a lot of arms and body and sometimes that drags the bat through the zone; if the back foot quickens up that helps quicken up the hands and it was amazing to see how he was able to let the ball travel."
The native of the Dominican Republic raised his average 39 points .231.
"He's got the tools, it's just a matter of being aggressive, and the thing with a guy like Maggs is he has the speed, as a weapon, he has the bunt," Gregg said. "He has the potential to hit the ball out of the park, but what is the plan at the plate? He was trying to get deep into counts, but we need him to be more aggressive; tonight, he made a really big adjustment."
The Baby Cakes rapped out 14 hits to back Marlins No. 12 prospect Zac Gallen (3-1), who allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings. New Orleans lost 14th-ranked Braxton Lee to an apparent leg injury on a slide in the eighth.
Major League veteran Frankie Montas (0-3) took the loss, surrendering five runs on seven hits in four innings. Nick Martini was 4-for-4 for the Sounds, while A's No. 3 prospectFranklin Barreto homered.
But Saturday was about Sierra and the improvement he showed at the plate, which was welcome news for Gregg.
"I talked to the people in the organization and our hitting coordinator and that was one of the things I suggested is quickening up and getting to the barrel on time," he said. "[Sierra] was getting his load early and he's got fast hands, but wasn't able to use them because he was using his body. Now he's seeing the ball better and laying off some tough pitches.
"The bottom line is we need him on base to use his speed and put pressure on the defense."
Vince Lara-Cinisomo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @vincelara.