Red Sox prospect Armando Sierra improved across the board in 2022

Red Sox first base/outfield prospect Armando Sierra celebrated his 19th birthday on Tuesday.

Sierra originally signed with the Red Sox for $150,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic just two days shy of his 17th birthday in January 2021. Shortly thereafter, the Sabana Grande de Palenque native was identified by Baseball America as a potential under-the-radar addition to Boston’s 2021 signing class.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero said of Sierra in April 2021. “After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power. As we continued to see him, it became apparent that not only did he have above average power for his signing class, but he also was developing a stronger approach.”

Sierra made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in July 2021. In 53 games for the DSL Red Sox Blue, the right-handed hitter batted .284/.373/.379 with 10 doubles, two home runs, 35 RBIs, 24 runs scored, 21 walks, and 41 strikeouts over 193 plate appearances.

After seeing the majority of his playing time come in the outfield corners in 2021, Sierra played more first base as he returned to the Dominican Summer League last year. In the process of logging 220 2/3 innings at first, 46 innings in left field, and 41 innings in right field, the 6-foot-2, 189-pounder slashed .314/.399/.473 with 15 doubles, five homers, 48 runs driven in, 37 runs scored, three stolen bases, 25 walks, and 22 strikeouts across 51 games (218 plate appearances) with the DSL Red Sox Blue.

Among the 69 hitters in the Dominican Summer League who made at least 210 trips to the plate in 2022, Sierra ranked second in strikeout rate (10.1 percent), ninth in batting average, 16th in on-base percentage, 11th in slugging percentage, 12th in OPS (.872), 24th in isolated power (.160), 16th in line-drive rate (23 percent), third in swinging-strike rate (16.5 percent), and 10th in wRC+ (136), per FanGraphs. He also represented the Red Sox in last July’s DSL All-Star Game.

As the above numbers indicate, Sierra showed signs of improvement across the board last season. He hit for a higher average (.284 to .314), raised his on-base percentage (.373 to .399), hit for more power (.379 to .473 slugging percentage), walked more (10.9 percent to 11.5 percent walk rate), and struck out less (21.2 to 10.1 percent strikeout rate) while putting up a wRC+ that increased by 19 percent (117 to 136).

Of course, Sierra has done all of this at the lowest rung of the minor-league ladder. He will likely be faced with an adjustment period when he makes the expected jump to the rookie-level Florida Complex League later this summer. With that being said, though, Sierra certainly seems to be on an encouraging trajectory even if he is still just a developing teenager.

Sierra, who obviously does not turn 20 until next January, is not yet regarded by publications such as SoxProspects.com as one of the top 60 prospects in Boston’s farm system. He should, however, have the chance to elevate his profile once he officially goes stateside in 2023.

(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Armando Sierra, Eybersson Polanco represent Red Sox in Dominican Summer League All-Star Game

A pair of young prospects represented the Red Sox in the 2022 Dominican Summer League All-Star Game in San Cristobal on Sunday.

Armando Sierra served as the American League’s starting first baseman and went 0-for-2 with a flyout and groundout before being replaced at first base by Astros prospect Waner Luciano in the middle of the fifth inning.

Eybersson Polanco, on the other hand, retired all three batters he faced in a scoreless third inning while also striking out one. Interestingly enough, the game ultimately ended in a 6-6 tie.

Sierra, 18, originally signed with the Red Sox for $150,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Sabana Grande de Palenque in January 2021. The 6-foot-2, 189-pounder has proven capable of playing first base and both corner outfield positions thus far into his professional career.

In 35 games with Boston’s Dominican Summer League Blue affiliate this season, the right-handed hitting Sierra has batted a stout .323/.395/.489 with 13 doubles, three home runs, 36 RBIs, 31 runs scored, one stolen base, 15 walks, and 14 strikeouts over 152 plate appearances.

Among qualified DSL hitters, Sierra currently ranks ninth in runs scored, second in doubles, first in RBIs, and ninth in strikeout rate (9.2%), per MiLB.com’s leaderboards.

Polanco, also 18, signed with Boston approximately six months after Sierra did as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela. The right-hander received a signing bonus of $50,000.

Listed at 6-foot and 170 pounds, Polanco made his professional debut for the DSL Red Sox Red last month and has since posted a 2.03 ERA and 3.00 FIP to go along with 29 strikeouts to 10 walks over seven starts spanning 26 2/3 innings of work.

Among DSL hurlers who have pitched at least 20 innings to this point in the season, Polanco currently ranks 60th in strikeout rate (28.7%), 26th in batting average against (.156), 31st in WHIP (0.90), 55th in ERA, 40th in FIP, and 55th in xFIP (3.51), according to FanGraphs.

(Picture of Dominican Republic flags: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

What to expect from Red Sox outfield prospect Armando Sierra heading into 2022 season

It was exactly 14 months ago Tuesday when the Red Sox signed outfielder Armando Sierra for $150,000 as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Although he was not the headliner of Boston’s 2021 international signing class (hello, Miguel Bleis), Sierra still received some attention from evaluators within the industry.

Last April, Baseball America’s Ben Badler identified Sierra as a potential sleeper prospect within the Sox’ international ranks, noting that the then-17-year-old had “an advanced approach to hitting for his age” as well as the ability to hit for power.

As a follow-up to that, Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero all but confirmed Badler’s observations in an email exchange with BloggingtheRedSox.com.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year. After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power,” Romero said at the time. “As we continued to see him, it became apparent that not only did he have above average power for his signing class, but he also was developing a stronger approach.”

In the months following his signing, Sierra continued to work out at the Sox’ Dominican academy in El Toro before making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League last July.

Across 53 games for the club’s DSL Blue affiliate, the young right-handed hitter batted a respectable .284/.373/.379 (117 wRC+) to go along with 10 doubles, two home runs, 35 RBIs, 24 runs scored, 21 walks, and 41 strikeouts over 193 plate appearances.

Against left-handed pitching, Sierra slashed .296/.424/.370. Against right-handed pitching, he slashed .284/.365/.383 with both of his home runs and 33 of his 35 runs driven in.

Among all Dominican Summer League hitters who made at least 190 trips to the plate last year, Sierra ranked 27th in batting average, 48th in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, 51st in OPS (.752), and 54th in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Sierra was labeled as a corner infielder even before signing with Boston. In his introductory course to pro ball, the 6-foot-2, 189 pounder logged 95 innings in left field and 115 innings in right while recording a total of two outfield assists. He also appeared in eight games (seven starts) as a first baseman.

Shortly before the 2021 DSL summer came to a close last fall, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote in September that Sierra’s “power potential is impressive. He is a below-average athlete and does not project to add much defensive value, but he has big-time raw power. He gets his whole body into his swing, but there are significant questions with his hit tool that could limit his power utility against more advanced pitching.” 

Sierra, who turned 18 in January, is not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. Given his age, the Sabana Grande de Palenque presumably still has room to grow physically and as a baseball player.

SoxProspects.com projects that Sierra will return to the Dominican Summer League for the start of the 2022 minor-league season. That being said, a promotion to the Florida Complex League later in the year certainly seems plausible.

(Picture of Red Sox cap: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox outfield prospect Armando Sierra could prove to be underrated member of team’s 2021 international signing class

The Red Sox made a splash in the international free-agent market this winter by signing Dominican outfield prospect Miguel Bleis for $1.5 million back in January.

Appearing on the SoxProspects.com podcast with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall in February, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero described Bleis as a “premium centerfield talent” who has “got all five tools” in addition to “surprising power” and “an absolute hose of an arm.”

While Bleis has stolen the headlines and has already shot up the prospect charts (Boston’s No. 22 prospect according to Baseball America), there is another 17-year-old outfielder the Sox signed out of the Dominican who deserves some attention as well.

That outfield prospect’s name? Armando Sierra, who hails from the same city as fellow outfielder Gilberto Jimenez and right-hander Denyi Reyes (San Cristobal).

In his review of what the Red Sox have done thus far during the 2021 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler identified Sierra as his ‘sleeper [to] watch.’

“Armando Sierra is a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic with a chance to hit and hit for power,” Badler wrote of the right-handed hitter last week. “He’s a physically imposing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with an advanced approach to hitting for his age, keeping the bat head in the hitting zone for a long time that helps him drive the ball with power to all fields. He’s a limited runner whose offensive game will drive his value.” 

Sierra, who signed with the Sox for a bonus of $150,000 on January 15, does not turn 18 until next January.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year. After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power,” Romero recently told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “As we continued to see him, it became apparent that not only did he have above average power for his signing class, but he also was developing a stronger approach.

“Since his signing, Sierra has lost close to 20 pounds while gaining muscle working out at our academy,” added Romero. “He continues to improve defensively and is also featuring an above average arm (which was not the case during his scouting trials).”

The young outfielder will likely begin the 2021 minor-league season with one of the Red Sox’ rookie-level, Dominican Summer League teams. In fact, as Romero indicated, he’s already training at the team’s Dominican academy in El Toro, a town just outside of Santo Domingo.

Other recent Red Sox international signees highlighted by Badler include catcher Enderso Lira, right-handers Alvaro Mejias and Jedixson Paez, and shortstops Luis Ravelo and Ahbram Liendo.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)