Sierra sidelined by unresolved paperwork

Pitcher arrives at spring facility, but unable to participate

February 29th, 2016

PHOENIX -- Cuban pitcher Yaisel Sierra was at Camelback Ranch-Glendale on Monday to view the Dodgers' workout and tour the clubhouse, but he still has unresolved paperwork and is unable to take the field.

Sierra signed a six-year, $30 million contract and is expected to begin the season in the Minor Leagues, but now he is nearly two weeks behind the other pitchers. The 24-year-old Sierra, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 168 pounds, pitched four seasons in the Cuban League, where he went 16-21 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.490 WHIP, primarily as a starter.

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"He's got a lot of power in his arsenal, we like his makeup, he's fairly far along but still has some room to grow as we turn him into a Major League pitcher," Josh Byrnes, Dodgers senior vice president of baseball operations, said when Sierra officially signed on Feb. 21.

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Byrnes said the club theorizes that Sierra's pedestrian Cuban stats are a function of a pitching style that leaned more on breaking balls and varying arm slots than Sierra's velocity, which averages 97-98 mph with a four-seam fastball and 91-93 mph with a two-seam fastball.

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In an attempt to catch up after being dormant in the international market for years, the Dodgers have been particularly aggressive in the Cuban market since they overwhelmed Yasiel Puig in 2012 with a seven-year, $42 million deal. Puig was an immediate sensation, prompting the club to scoop up infielders Alex Guerrero ($28 million), Erisbel Arruebarrena ($25 million) and Hector Olivera ($62.5 million), with checkered results.

That hasn't stopped them in the past few months to sign Cuban pitcher Yadier Alvarez and fellow Cuban prospects Yusniel Diaz and Omar Estevez, all of whom have reported to the club's early Minor League camp.