The Cardinals have long been revered for the organization’s ability to produce home grown, major league talent.
In recent years, multiple prospects have blossomed into everyday players. Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, and Kolten Wong are just a few of the players who have reached baseball’s top level through the Cardinals’ system.
However, it seems as though even the most unlikely of Cardinal prospects somehow steal the spotlight year in and year out.
Jeremy Hazelbaker was the surprise of 2016 and Tommy Pham stole the show in 2015. Adron Chambers helped propel the Cardinals into the postseason in 2011, and remember Bo Hart? He had one of the best debut months in major league history. The list goes on and on, really.
Don’t blink, because this year, Magneuris Sierra has taken Cardinal Nation by storm with his speed.
Sierra emerged as a 21-year-old kid from Class-A ball to fill in for injured outfielders Piscotty, Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez. That leap is significant in itself, however, the timing is more so.
The Cardinals were hoping to put a more athletic and fundamentally sound team on the diamond this year, and during the team’s first month of the season, they looked like anything but. Baserunning was an issue in 2016, and if possible, 2017 started off looking like it could be worse. Ranking towards the bottom across the board in baserunning statistics, the season’s future turned bleak as quickly as the Cardinals were getting picked off.
They needed a spark, and instead received an entire firework show in the form of a 5’ 11”, 168 pound native of the Dominican Republic.
Also from the Dominican Republic is Albert Pujols. However, that’s not the only parallel between the newest Cardinal and the most notable Cardinal of this millennium.
In 2001, Pujols became the surprise of the century at 21-years-old. His emergence as a major leaguer was just as unlikely as anyone’s before or after. Sixteen years later, Sierra is the only 21-year-old to be called up by the Cardinals since the future Hall of Famer. They say you’re only as good as the company you keep, and already the youngster is in good company.
Though it’s only been four games and reality is sure to set in eventually, Sierra is slashing .353/.421/.353. The Cardinals are undefeated since he’s been called up, in large part because he has scored the go-ahead run in 50 percent of his games played.
Not to be overlooked, though, is Jose Martinez. Martinez’s rookie campaign began this year at age 28. After years of grinding through the minor leagues, he’s done nothing but produce since day one, and has quickly become a fan favorite.
Martinez is likely to be more of a staple in 2017 than Sierra, but both have kept the tradition of surprising Cardinals alive.
So, who’s next?
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