March 2, 2012; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Moises Sierra (74) poses for a portrait during photo day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Jays Journal Top 50 Blue Jays Prospects: No. 30 Moises Sierra

The man with one of the best throwing arms in minor league baseball, Moises Sierra, is No. 30 on the top 50 prospects list…

No. 30: Moises Sierra

Moises Sierra has the best arm in the Jays' minor league system. (Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE)

Right fielder / 23 years old / 6′1″ 225 lbs

Born: September 24, 1988 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Bats: Right    Throws: Right

High School: N/A

College: N/A

Acquired: Signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent on December 20, 2005

Pre-2011 Rank: 30

Quick Facts:

  • 2009 Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star
  • 2009 Florida State League Player of the Week (June 15th)
  • 2009 Organizational Player of the Month (June)
  • 2009 R. Howard Webster Award winner (High-A)
  • 2011 Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star
  • Runner-up to teammate Mike McDade in the 2011 Eastern League Home Run Derby

Career Stats:

Year Age League Level AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO OBP SLG OPS
2006 17 DOSL FRk .253 69 245 35 62 16 1 4 26 17 3 24 50 .345 .376 .721
2007 18 GCL Rk .203 43 143 17 29 5 1 5 15 2 2 5 39 .248 .357 .605
2008 19 MWL A .246 130 451 50 111 16 5 9 39 12 11 26 114 .297 .364 .661
2009 20 2 Lgs A+/AA .292 118 439 57 128 25 2 6 62 10 3 35 74 .360 .399 .759
2010 21 2 Lgs Rk/A+ .211 20 71 8 15 3 0 2 8 0 1 5 19 .256 .338 .594
2011 22 EAS AA .277 133 495 81 137 19 3 18 67 16 14 39 93 .342 .436 .778

New Hampshire Fisher Cats team stats ranking:

  • 1st in hits (137) and GIDP (12)
  • 2nd in games played (133), at-bats (495), runs (81), home runs (18), caught stealings (14) and HBP (12)
  • T-2nd in sacrifice flies (4)
  • 3rd in RBI (67), total bases (216), walks (39) and stolen bases (16)
  • T-3rd in triples (3)
  • 4th in slugging percentage (.436), batting average (.277) and OPS (.778)
  • T-5th in on-base percentage (.342)
  • 6th in strikeouts (93)
  • 7th in doubles (19)
  • T-7th in errors (4)

Interviews:

Video:

  • Hitting one of his 18 home runs with New Hampshire last season:

Extra Information and previous experience:

After breaking out in 2009 with High-A Dunedin and going 12-for-34 (.353) in eight games following a late-season promotion to Double-A New Hampshire, Moises Sierra’s world came crashing down the following year when he was forced to miss the entire first half of the 2010 season after suffering a microfracture in one of his shins. When he finally resumed baseball duties, he then broke the hamate bone in one of his wrists, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. By the time the offseason rolled around, all Sierra had to show for his 2010 campaign was a pair of 10-game stints with Dunedin and the Gulf Coast League Jays.

Finally healthy, Sierra spent all of last season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, making his presence known with a dynamite first two months. On top of hitting over .300 with an OPS above .800 in his first 46 games, he hit seven home runs — just two shy of his previous career-high of nine that he set in 130 games with Lansing back in 2008.

Sierra could not sustain his hot start as the season wore on, though, as he hit roughly .227 with an OPS below .700 over his next 55 games in June and July. He did, however, start improving his free-swinging approach against left-handers over the summer, and eventually worked his way out of his mid-season rut to put everything together and finish the year strong with a .308 average and an OPS right around .800 in his final 32 games.

When the Blue Jays signed Sierra back in 2005, he was viewed as a possible five-tool player. He was touted for his power potential, and after failing to impress in that aspect earlier in his career, he finally showcased his power last season with New Hampshire, setting a new career-high with 18 home runs.  He was also selected to participate in the Eastern League Home Run Derby last summer, where he made it to the finals and matched teammate Mike McDade shot-for-shot until the very end.

His power comes from excellent bat speed and a thick lower half that really lets him drive the ball, especially to his pull side. It was said that he was more confident at the plate and was seeing the ball better last season, but he could still benefit from continuing to work on his aggressive approach at the plate, which sometimes coaxed him to swing at pitches out of the zone.

Though Sierra’s bat is promising, he’s well-known for his work in the field. An above-average defender, Sierra’s trademark is his cannon of an arm, which is easily the best in the Jays’ minor league system and considered by some scouts to be the best in all of minor league baseball. Sierra’s presence in right field easily deters runners from tagging from any base, and most runners re-think the idea of running from first to third if the ball is anywhere close to him. Easily a plus-plus tool, Sierra’s arm is not only powerful but very accurate, to the point where one-hoppers from deep right field to third or home are the norm, with some arriving without a bounce at all.

While in Florida for one of the Jays’ spring training games against the Pirates at the beginning of March, I remember a play where Sierra caught a deep fly ball with a runner on second. The runner was Pirates infielder Josh Harrison, a relatively-quick runner for his size that has a 72% stolen base success rate in 111 minor league attempts. After deciding to tag, Harrison stopped dead in his tracks and returned to second after seeing the ball rocket right past him to Jays third baseman Brian Bocock on one-hop. Almost half of the section I was sitting in on the first-base side ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ after witnessing Sierra’s throw.

Initially projected to have good speed, stolen bases won’t factor much into Sierra’s game when he makes it to the big leagues. Although he has reached double digits in stolen bases in each of his full minor league seasons, Sierra has just a 62.6% success rate to show for his efforts, brought down considerably by his 16-of-30 showing in 2011. His baserunning instincts also factor into that percentage, considering he’s sometimes too aggressive on the base paths and can hurt his team with periodic lapses of judgment.

2012 Team: Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A)

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: MLB everyday RF

Building off of a successful return to full-season ball in 2011, Sierra should see his offensive numbers improve this season from hitting in the Pacific Coast League and through working with 51s hitting coach Chad Mottola. Consistency will be key for him, though, as his offensive production tailed off midway through the season last year before recovering with a late surge near the end.

With speculation that Jose Bautista could move to first base in the near future, staying healthy will also be important for Sierra. He’s already on the 40-man roster and is the closest right fielder to the majors, with other notable outfielders down in High-A and lower.  At the very least, he’ll earn a September call-up to the Jays this year.

- JM

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