Is this the season Miami Marlins second baseman Isan Diaz shows the baseball world he can be one of the best at his position in 2020 and beyond?
There is good reason why the baseball masses were excited, along with the Marlins front office for his arrival in 2019. After swatting 26 home runs and 70 RBI in 102 games at Triple-A New Orleans last season, the natural ascension to the parent club was expected to be a smooth transition toward the end of the season.
It was anything but that for Diaz, who looked like a power hitter at times – while he jacked the ball out of the yard against Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard – and looked like a rookie in Single-A ball committing errors on routine groundouts. There is still a learning curve for the 23-year-old from Puerto Rico this coming season. And with the potential of a shorter season and a need for this team to jump out fast, how Diaz adjusts could be vital to the growth of the ballclub.
As MLB.com posted about his play, “After the D-backs took him in 2014’s second round from a Massachusetts high school, Díaz won Rookie-level Pioneer League MVP honors in 2015, then led the Class A Midwest League with 20 homers the following year after going to the Brewers in a trade for Jean Segura. Part of the package Milwaukee sent to the Marlins for Christian Yelich in January 2018, Díaz asserted himself with 31 homers between Triple-A and Miami last year.”
Yelich may be the best player in the National League at the moment, but that does not mean Diaz won’t reach that level in the future. He has the power in his swing to become a consistent home-run threat in the middle of the lineup. He spent the offseason learning more about playing on the top level and has focused on becoming a more complete player.
That’s why there is still plenty of optimism about how he will progress moving forward.
Home Run Leader
There is a lot of power in that bat. The Miami Marlins know if Diaz can work on his swing and focus at the plate, he can be a threat, especially if he can get into a hitting groove.
Hitting 31 home runs in any stage with an organization is no joke and the five he hit once he was brought up to The Show weren’t cheap shots by any means. The more opportunities he gets at the plate, the more consistent he should become.
It would not surprise me if Diaz finds that kind of consistency in the second half of the season and hits 30 or more home runs to lead this team in that category.
A Gold Glove Combination
Remember you heard it here first. Diaz has been working this offseason on his fielding and should benefit from having Miguel Rojas as one of his mentors on the roster. It shouldn’t surprise many if Diaz also eliminated the simple errors he committed by working more on his concentration defensively.
The fact Diaz moved quickly through the Miami Marlins minor league system is an indication he is more than ready to fill the spot at second base. Starlin Castro is a tough act to follow. He moved to third base when the team called the rookie up from New Orleans.
Now, this is a spot Diaz owns. Look for him to show more maturity defensively this coming season which may lead to him winning a Gold Glove award in his first full season in the big leagues.
A .300 Average
Contact is one thing, moving the ball around the diamond is another. Diaz is a contact hitter who is still learning how to hit Major League pitching. The time this Spring was supposed to help that, but as I have written, the time away from the field may affect him.
Hopefully, Diaz returns to camp and can pick up right where he left off. That means more consistency at the plate and potentially moving down in the batting order.