Miami Marlins Prospect Primer: Isan Diaz
Isan Diaz came into 2018 ranked as the number nine prospect in the Marlins system by MLB.com. After a slow start at the plate, his bat is beginning to turn some heads as it continues to heat up.
Diaz was originally taken with the 70th overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school in 2014. Since then, he has taken home a Pioneer League MVP, an organizational Minor League Player of the Year award and has been traded twice.
After the 2015 season, the Diamondbacks shipped Diaz to the Brewers in a deal that sent Jean Segura to Arizona. After two years in the Brewers’ system, Diaz made his way to Miami as a part of the package that the Marlins received in return for Christian Yelich.
Diaz’s highest rated tool by both FanGraphs and MLB.com is his power. In the past, he has shown the ability to put up impressive home run totals and drive the ball all over the yard. In only 135 games in 2016, Diaz mashed 20 home runs in Low-A for the Brewers.
The Marlins love his bat speed and his ability to consistently make violent, loud contact with the baseball.
Although Diaz does have plus power, he has struggled with his hit tool. MLB.com and FanGraphs differ in their evaluation of Diaz’s hit tool. MLB.com rated it as a 50 which is average and FanGraphs put the below average grade of 40 on it.
With that being said, Diaz does have high strikeout numbers across the minor leagues. Throughout his career, Diaz has struck out over 25% of the time, which is about 5% higher than average.
While many players in modern baseball are able to succeed with high strikeout rates, they still do give a standard bar to measure a player’s ability to make contact. There are also other metrics that could tell you what type of hitter Diaz is.
In 2017, Diaz’s pull rate spiked from 40.9% in 2016 to 46.6% in 2017. This coincided with a 42 point dip in his batting average. Pulling or not, raising his batting average from .222 in 2017 will be key to having further success down the road.
Diaz’s left-handed swing is very smooth and compact. He has a slight leg kick, separates well and shows the ability to repeat his swing. Some evaluators have compared the swing to Robinson Cano’s based off of the fluidity of it.
In the field, evaluators have Diaz as an average glove with an above average arm. Diaz had spent the start of his pro career as a shortstop, so the move over to second base should be an easy one for him.
Overall, Diaz has the chance to be a solid contributor for the Marlins at the major league level. While there are some questions regarding his ability to make consistent contact, his power will play in the big leagues.
Both MLB.com and FanGraphs gave Diaz an OFV (Overall Future Value) of 50. This means that Diaz is seen as an average contributor at the major league level in the future.
A comfortable major league comparison on the offensive side of the ball might be Eugenio Suarez of the Cincinnati Reds. Both players run up high strikeout rates, have modest averages and show the ability to drive balls over the fence.
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Obviously, the biggest difference between the two is the side of the plate they hit from and their position. Other than that, Diaz and Suarez have similar offensive profiles.
The pair has very similar flyball and pull percentages, which is indicative of the type of players they are. In 2017, Diaz pulled the ball 46.6% of the time and hit a flyball in 39.5% of his at-bats. In 2015 which was Suarez’s last time in the minors, he pulled the ball at a 46.7% clip and hit 39.4% flyballs.
The 0.1% difference between the two categories references how close their approaches at the plate actually are.
We have already seen Suarez have success at the major league level that he turned into a six-year extension. Now, it is time to see if Diaz can produce on the big stage as well. If he can, he will be a key piece in this Marlins rebuild.
Next: Starlin Castro's Production
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