Isan Diaz was the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp’s 2018 double-A Most Valuable Player.
This week, we’re finishing up our 2018 every-Marlins-player series. Diaz is part 279-of-286 who played in the Miami Marlins system last season.
Isan Xavier Diaz is a 5’10”, 185 lb. middle infielder from Springfield, Massachusetts, population 154,758. Twenty-five major leaguers came from the town originally, including LHP Chris Capuano and fringy veteran’s committee Hall-of-Fame prospect Rabbit Maranville.
Diaz was born on May 27th, 1996, and attended Springfield Central HS in Springfield, MA. After his graduation, the Arizona Diamondbacks chose him in the second round of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft, with the 70th overall selection. Players taken at that spot have made the majors 30 percent of the time historically, or 16-of-53 times. The group is led by shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2010, Atlanta Braves, 34.9 career WAR), LHP Britt Burns (1978, Chicago White Sox, 18.0 WAR), and RHP Aaron Cook (1997, Colorado Rockies, 15.7 WAR).
After signing with Arizona for a $750,000 bonus, Diaz, then a shortstop by trade, joined the rookie-level Arizona Diamondbacks in the Arizona League. In 48 games, he hit .187/.289/.330 with three homers and 21 RBI, along with 25 walks and 56 strikeouts in 212 plate appearances.
"Primarily a shortstop to begin his career, Diaz saw the bulk of his Carolina League playing time at second base and has played there exclusively in 2018. He’s a solid if unspectacular defender at the keystone, where his fringy speed, range and hands all are clean fits. He has gains to make on both sides of the ball, but the foundation is there for Diaz to develop into an impactful, power-hitting second baseman. – MLB Pipeline"
Diaz put it all together for the 2015 Missoula Osprey, in the rookie-level Pioneer League the next season. His slashline nearly doubled across the board, with a .360/.436/.640 mark, 13 round-trippers and 51 RBI, 34 walks versus 65 strikeouts in 312 PA, and 12 stolen bases in 68 contests. He earned several awards for his performance in that season, including the PL Most Valuable Player award.
After Diaz’ breakout 2015, Arizona traded Diaz with Chase Anderson and Aaron Hill to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner. He started the 2016 campaign as the Crew’s number 11 prospect, according to the MLB Pipeline, and joined the full-season-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the Midwest League.
In 135 games for Wisconsin, Diaz hit .264/.358/.469 with 20 homers and 75 RBI. He stole 11 bases, and drew 72 walks with 148 strikeouts. For the second season in a row, he was named to his league’s respective all-star team. After the regular season, he joined the Arizona Fall League. Video courtesy of the You Tube page, “Baseball.”
2017 would see Diaz pushed up to the high-A Carolina Mudcats in the Carolina League, where he played in 110 games and shifted his primary position to second base. He hit .222/.334/.376, but still connected on 13 homers and totaled 54 RBI, while staling nine bases and drawing 62 walks versus 121 whiffs.
After the season, Diaz was famously included in the Christian Yelich deal. The trade also netted for the Miami Marlins Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Jordan Yamamoto while netting the Brewers a Most Valuable Player.
2018 would start for Diaz on the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp roster, after going five-for-23 with a homer in Miami Marlins Spring Training. In 83 games at the new level, he hit .245/.365/.418, with 10 long-balls and 42 RBI. He stole 10-of-13 bases, and drew 53 walks versus 95 K’s in 356 total plate appearances. Seventeen of his 83 Southern League games played ended up as multiple-hit affairs, including a four-hit contest in a wild 10-9 win over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos on April 26th. Diaz finished with a single, two doubles, and a home run with three RBI in the victory. On August 19th, he was promoted to the triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes, in the Pacific Coast League.
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In 36 contests for the Cakes, Diaz hit .204/.281/.358 with three homers and 14 RBI, as well as four stolen bases in four tries. He had 10 multi-hit games in his month-and-a-half at the highest minor-league level, including on August 4th. In that contest, an 18-7 win over the Albuquerque Isotopes, Diaz hit two triples and a home run, totaling five RBI.
Diaz’ first season in the Marlins minor league system would see him play exclusively at second base, and field at a decent .973 clip in over 1000 innings of work. After the season, Diaz was honored as the MVP for the Jumbo Shrimp.
Diaz is currently on the Miami Marlins 40-man roster, and is the heir-apparent to incumbent second baseman Starlin Castro. Regardless where Diaz ends up starting the season, he should be the regular at second no later than the end of July.