Jumbo Díaz signed a minor league deal to play in the Miami Marlins system in 2018.
Pitchers and catchers have already reported, and the Miami Marlins will play in their first Spring Training game in eight days. Although it can’t happen soon enough for me, there’s still five more players from the 2018 campaign that we haven’t summarized. Part 282-of-286 in our offseason-long series on every player in the Miami Marlins system last year is Jumbo Díaz.
Jose Rafael Díaz is a 6’4″, 315 lb. right-handed throwing and hitting pitcher from La Romana, Dominican Republic, population 127,623. Twenty-four major leaguers have originated out of the city, including outfielder Felix Pie, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, and former Miami Marlins reliever, Antonio Alfonseca.
Born on February 27th, 1984, Díaz was the fourth oldest player in the Miami Marlins system last season, behind only reliever Brad Ziegler, fellow farmhand Sean Burnett, and third baseman Martin Prado. In 2001, Díaz signed his first professional deal, with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Díaz worked his way up through the Dodgers’ system for the next six seasons. He made stops for the Gulf Coast Dodgers, the Great Falls Dodgers, the South Georgia Waves, the Ogden Raptors, the Vero Beach Dodgers, the Columbus Catfish, the Jacksonville Suns (then a Dodgers affiliate), and the Great Lakes Loons.
After taking 2008 off, Díaz joined the Texas Rangers organization the following season. He was 3-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 36 appearances for the double-A Frisco RoughRiders, in the Texas League. For his efforts, he was named to the TL midseason All Star team.
Over the next several seasons, Díaz played for the Frederick Keys and the Bowie Baysox in the Baltimore Orioles system, the Indianapolis Indians in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, the Louisville Bats and the Cincinnati Reds in the Reds organization, the Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Tampa Bay Rays in the Rays organization, and the Fresno Grizzlies in the Houston Astros system.
At the close of the 2017 campaign, Díaz had accumulated 173 major league appearances between the Reds and the Rays. He was 4-7 with a 4.02 ERA, 172 strikeouts in 167 1/3 innings, and a 1.32 WHIP at baseball’s top level. On November 7th, following that season, he declared free agency.
Here’s Diaz with the Baby Cakes in 2018, courtesy of Baseball Census.
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The Miami Marlins signed Díaz to a minor league deal on January 12th, 2018, and deployed him to the New Orleans Baby Cakes. Aside from a short rehab assignment, he remained with the triple-A Pacific Coast League club for the balance of the season. In 36 relief appearances, Díaz collected a 6-6 record and a 2.18 ERA and 52 K’s in 45 1/3 innings of work. He also had a 1.235 WHIP, 10.3 K’s per nine innings, and an opposing batters’ slashline of .226/.319/.280.
On November 2nd, Díaz elected free agency once again. Currently unsigned, the soon-to-be 35-year-old pitcher is free to sign with any professional team, affiliated or otherwise.