The Peoria Chiefs’ Opening Day roster includes six players ranked by Baseball America among the St. Louis Cardinals’ top 30 prospects.
Three of those players are ranked among the Cardinals’ top 10 prospects: outfielder Magneuris Sierra (No. 6), shortstop Edmundo Sosa (No. 7) and right-handed pitcher Junior Fernandez (No. 9).
After winning the Gulf Coast League batting title with a .386 average in 2014, Sierra struggled to start the 2015 season, hitting a mere .191 in 51 games with the Peoria Chiefs. He recovered nicely after being demoted to the Cardinals’ rookie-level team in Johnson City, posting a .315 batting average in 53 games to finish his season strongly. Baseball America calls him “a top-of-the-scale runner and pure centerfielder with advanced defensive ability who has the effortless range.” It also says “he must improve his pitch recognition to reach his ceiling as an above-average hitter. … If it all works out, Sierra will be a Gold Glove centerfielder and table-setting leadoff hitter.”
Sosa batted .300 with 7 HR and 16 RBI in 49 games with Johnson City last year. Baseball America says the Panama native “has a chance to have average tools across the board and to play a premium position, which could make him one of the Cardinals’ most valuable prospects in the end. He’s the system’s latest best hope for a homegrown shortstop.”
Though still considered raw, Fernandez throws a fastball that reaches 100 mph, a plus changeup, and a slider that’s “a solid-average breaking ball,” according to Baseball America.
Three other Chiefs players — all right-handed pitchers — are ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 Cardinals prospects: Jacob Woodford (No. 17), Sandy Alcantara (No. 19) and Derian Gonzalez (No. 27). All three of them pitched in the Gulf Coast League last year.
The Chiefs are managed by Joe Kruzel, who is in his third year as Peoria’s skipper.