While the Dodgers left the 2017 Winter Meetings with only a consolation prize of a mid-level infield prospect, many fans have taken to social media to express their respective concerns heading into 2018, especially in the area of the bullpen. It took several years for the team to finally find a competent setup man in Brandon Morrow, yet the veteran righty was able to walk away from Los Angeles and land a lucrative deal with the Cubs for the next several seasons. Andrew Friedman and his troops seem fairly confident in the internal relief options heading into 2018 spring training, but questions loom as to whether the impending bullpen will be talented enough to help guide the squad into next season’s playoff picture.
With the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline almost at the two-week mark, much of the recent chatter in the Dodgers‘ camp has been about potentially acquiring help for the bullpen. Plenty of prospective additions have been tossed around the baseball blogosphere thus far, however, if the availability of some of the better relievers eventually dissipates, there may be a few options that the club could decide to utilize from within. And while much of the speculation has suggested the need for a left-handed pitcher, it just might be one of the righty kids on the farm who makes the biggest difference in the end.
While the big league Dodgers appear to have worked out a few of the kinks from their early-season mediocrity, the boys at Oklahoma City also seem to be turning a rough corner, having stolen three out of four from Round Rock this past week, and orchestrating a huge come-from-behind victory against Fresno on Friday evening.
(Photo Credit: milb.com)
If you’re a close follower of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ minor league affiliates, you probably had a very busy evening Tuesday night. You were likely watching righty Zach Lee throw seven-plus innings of solid ball for Triple-A OKC, but if you happened to check on the High-A Quakes game to see Yaisel Sierra pitch or Alex Guerrero bat cleanup, the final at-bat in the eighth inning for shortstop Tim Locastro certainly provided the most excitement of all.
(Photo Credit: Tulsa Drillers)
Just three days after earning a promotion to Tulsa from Rancho Cucamonga, right-handed starter Trevor Oaks earned the victory in his Double-A debut while helping lead the Drillers to a 2-1 victory over Arkansas in an early game on Wednesday.
Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Sierra is expected to receive a guarantee of about $30 million. Because of his age and experience, he is not subject to the international signing guidelines.
Sierra, 24, pitched five seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional with Holguin (2010-14) and Sancti Spiritus (2012). During that span, he went 16-21 with 25 saves and a 4.23 ERA in 131 games which included 25 starts. In his 2013 season with Holguin, Sierra posted a 3.92 ERA with a 7.0 K/9 in 101 innings, despite recording a 5.7 BB/9.
In a report last week, Keith Law of ESPN (subscription required) noted that Sierra should be close to being MLB-ready and may best profile as a middle reliever when he debuts for the Dodgers:
“He has a very quick arm, coming from a high three-quarters slot with a 93-97 mph fastball and a hard cutter-like slider that flashes plus but is nowhere near consistent enough. He has no changeup to speak of yet and well below-average control.”
During a showcase in Florida last October, Sierra performed well before an audience of 350 scouts and baseball officials. Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required) recapped Sierra’s performance:
“Sierra threw 34 pitches on Thursday, including 19 fastballs, 12 sliders and two changeups. His average fastball velocity was 94.7 mph, and the pitch peaked at 96 multiple times and once dropped to 91. Sierra had outstanding command of his fastball down and to his glove side. He also had command of his slider in the same spot. Sierra’s slider broke with very late two-plane movement, and he ran it away from righthanded batters consistently, and the pitch showed the ability to compete in the strike zone. Sierra threw what appeared to be a changeup twice. The pitch had more vertical movement than his slider, and did not have overwhelming fade, though he did hit his spots with it.”
Badler also noted on Twitter that Sierra could rise to a potential mid-rotation starter with the help of a very experienced Dodgers’ pitching staff. In spite of the high risk factor, there’s reason to hope he can improve his control.
Also in the Baseball America interview, Sierra seemed excited and confident in regards to the development of his secondary pitches:
“I worked 24/7 for my slider and changeup,” Sierra told Teddy Cahill through translator and former big leaguer Alex Sanchez. “I was very excited to throw my slider and changeup because they don’t throw that kind of pitch in Cuba.”
To create room on the 40-man roster for Sierra, the Dodgers placed right-handed pitcher Frankie Montas on the 60-day disabled list after having rib resection surgery last week.
Manager Dave Roberts indicated early Sunday that Sierra should be arriving to camp within the next few days.
(Photo Credit: mlb.com)