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Checking in on Magneuris Sierra

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He struggled in 2015 and dazzled in 2016; now, the Cardinals’ prospect could make a powerful statement in 2017.

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

In wake of an inferior 2015 performance in the batter’s box, Cardinals outfield prospect Magneuris Sierra overrode his struggles with a superior year in 2016, a campaign that the left-handed hitter will look to build upon in a 2017 season that figures to be salient.

The 20-year-old Sierra, who ranks as the sixth-best Cardinals prospect on MLB.com, exhibited several struggles in 2015, particularly during his stint at the Class-A level to begin the season. After spending 2014 at Rookie ball, Sierra struck out at an alarming 27.4 percentage and slashed a meager .119/.219/.247 through 51 games with the Peoria Chiefs until his early-June demotion back to Johnson City, where -- in much contrast to the prior three months -- he finished the year with a 117 wRC+ in 239 plate appearances.

In fact, Sierra’s evident turnaround at the end of 2015 warranted a promotion for 2016, and the speedy outfielder grabbed the opportunity by the horns.

Sierra rejoined the Chiefs out of spring training last year, and he displayed an air of maturity that he lacked in his first rodeo at Class-A. Across 122 games, Sierra tallied 36 extra-base hits (29 doubles, four triples, and three home runs) to complement a .338 wOBA and 31 stolen bases, eclipsing his career highs in each category. Perhaps the most impressive of Sierra’s numbers from a year ago is his lowered strikeout rate, as he whiffed 17.4 percent of the time, and, compared to his past rates, that’s a grand improvement. In correlation with fewer punchouts, Sierra drew 22 walks, tripling the number of bases on balls he managed while at Class-A in ‘16.

In addition to his offense, Sierra was fine on the flip side of the ball last year. In 1,065 13 frames of fieldwork, all of which were logged in center field, Sierra committed just eleven errors in 308 total chances and contributed eleven assists, including two double plays.

In what was likely one of the easiest decisions of the offseason, the Cardinals added Sierra to their 40-man roster back in November to protect him from the annual Rule 5 draft. As all on the 40-man roster, Sierra will receive an invitation to team’s spring training camp.

Shall Sierra have a excellent spring, it’s possible he could begin the 2017 season with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals, being that there might be roster openings with the possible promotions of Trey Nielsen, Paul DeJong, and Harrison Bader to Triple-A to start the year.

Although touted as one of the organization’s premier prospects for a while, Sierra has slipped under the radar rather significantly, especially so after being named the team’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2013.

With such in mind, the 2017 season is an important one for Sierra to prove he’s still in the cream of the crop of the Cardinals’ farm system.