The latest of the Dodgers’ international splashes, Yaisel Sierra slides into our prospect rankings at number 24 on the back of a solid relief profile. While Sierra’s overall contract outlay might suggest more impact than he’s presently ranked, from a year-to-year standpoint his contract looks more in-line with a player likely to serve in a middle relief role. While his stuff flashes promise, Sierra is enters the system as an older prospect that hasn’t always found success at the professional level in Cuba.
Perhaps my biggest disagreement between scouting reports on Sierra and what I watched on video is the smoothness of his delivery. While Sierra has a quick arm and clean action overall, he shows some stiffness in his wrists and quite a bit of recoil in his October outings. I didn’t see a consistent release point and he had a tendency to pull himself offline and toward first base. It does appear on the brief film with the Dodgers that he has begun working to correct the recoil and keeping his upper body motion more in line with the target.
Sierra’s fastball is a pretty firm and lacks sink. He had a tendency to drop down too much in the October outing which caused his ball to run armside, but he lacked control over the pitch. When his arm stays high ¾ the fastball showed better late life. Sierra’s slider alternated between sharp downer and slurve, with the pitch varying with his arm slot. Sierra’s change-up showed promise with solid fade and average command for the pitch.
Sierra’s numbers from Cuba never showed dominance but instead paint a picture of a payer that has struggled to harness his stuff. He only spent one season starting a significant amount of games, and given his troubles with command and age, I don’t suspect he will be given much of an opportunity to carve a starting role stateside. As a relief prospect, Sierra could polish his three-pitch mix into that of a capable seventh inning reliever.
The upside in Sierra comes in his arm speed, and if the Dodgers can keep his slot consistent and get his upper body more in line with the target, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his velocity tick up to 95-97 mph more regularly. As is, I see his present value closely resembling that of Juan Nicasio for the Dodgers last season, but there’s enough upside here to surpass that comparison.