The Los Angeles Dodgers have made an investment in a young Cuban pitcher by the name of Yaisel Sierra. Sierra will earn a six-year contract with the Dodgers heading into the 2016 season.
Sierra, whose birthday is not officially known to Baseball Reference, is recognized as 24 or just having turned 25. He is known to be a hard throwing righty with an average slider. In a showcase in October, his fastball was around the mid-90s consistently and topped off at 96 mph, his slider was around 87 mph. He also throws a changeup. Sierra relies heavily on that high heat fastball, which could lead to struggles as he lacks any kind of strong secondary pitch. He also seriously lacks control, and at times, really has trouble finding the plate with his heater. As seen here:
Many compare him to now big league starter and Cuban stud Raisel Iglesias, who is currently a key component to a horrifyingly bad Cincinnati Reds rotation (no offense “media man” Matthew Ellis).
Before Sierra escaped and defected from his nation of Cuba he played in parts of five seasons in the Cuban National Series. In this league he pitched to a career 4.23 ERA as both a reliever and a starter, having his best season in 2012 at age 21, in which he pitched a 2.20 ERA as mostly a reliever. Sierra’s final year in the Cuban league in 2014 was definitely a struggle, with a 6.10 ERA, although these numbers apparently did not scare away the Dodgers. Numbers that poor in a foreign league, in my personal opinion is something to definitely at least consider when handing out such a long contract, but the Dodgers being the never ending pit of money definitely minimizes the risks.
Sierra has a fluid and clean motion when he throws the ball. He has also been notorious to pitch from more than one arm-slot, meaning the ball comes in at different angles and trajectories, making it much harder for batters to read let alone react to the pitch. It is projected that Sierra’s ceiling is a back end of the rotation starter, some believe that he’s purely a reliever.
Sierra’s role for the 2016 Dodgers is really unclear. He likely won’t make the Dodgers 25-man roster going into 2016, and likely won’t start for the team, as the Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitchers. He could prove to be an important addition of relief depth as the 2016 season rolls along.