With the 2020 Major League Baseball season already pushed forward for likely three months, there’s a lot of questions that still need answering.
The Miami Marlins are counting on former highly-rated prospect Isan Diaz, who is turning 24-years-old today, to hold down second base. Diaz joined the Miami Marlins in the trade that made Christian Yelich a Milwaukee Brewer prior to the 2018 campaign. Along with Diaz, pitcher Jordan Yamamoto and outfielders Monte Harrison and Lewis Brinson came over.
The quartet of youngsters can hardly be faulted for the numbers that Yelich has put up since that time. The 2018 National League Most Valuable Player, a good case for Yelich was building in 2019 as well before he was felled by injury. Since joining Milwaukee, Yelich has slashed .327/.415/.631 with 80 home runs, 207 RBI, and 52 stolen bases in 58 attempts.
Harrison has yet to face major league pitching, but should be a part of the Marlins 50-man roster when the season starts, if not the actual 30-man unit proper. Brinson has underwhelmed in his two seasons for the Miami Marlins by slashing .189/.238/.294 over 205 contests. Yamamoto, meanwhile, held the opposition to a .191 batting average over his 15 starts, going 4-5 with a. 4.46 ERA.
Diaz, who is a five-foot-10, 185 lb. native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, was initially picked in the second round of the draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014. He led the Pioneer League in 2015 with a .640 SLG, a 1.076 OPS, 174 total bases, 25 doubles, and 44 extra base hits. The following season, in the Midwest League, he led the circuit with 238 total bases, 20 homers, 72 walks, and 59 extra base hits. He was at one time ranked as highly as number 65 overall, in the 2017 MLB Pipeline, and he was number seven in the Marlins system at the start of last season.
Diaz got a 49-game look with the Miami Marlins through the final two months of the 2019 season, and showed a lot of promise. Who could forget his first major league home run off Jacob deGrom?
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We were all pretty happy to watch as it happened, but none of us more than his father, watching from the stands at Citi Field. Even considering the highlights, there are concerns about Diaz’ overall slash line. He clocked in with a mark of .179/.259/.307, and struck out 59 times in 201 plate appearances, just a pinch under 30 percent of the time.
Defensively, Diaz put up a .952 fielding percentage in 418 1/3 innings at second base, making nine errors and turning 21 double plays. Advanced metrics place Diaz pretty close to a league-average fielder at the position, at zero zone fielding runs above average and minus-1 BIS defensive runs saved above average.
All the tools are there for Diaz to excel at the major league level, he just has to tap into it for a half-season. Do you think Diaz is ready? Let me know what you think, and thanks for reading.