2019 Level: AA
Tools (current/future value)
Game Power: 50/55
Raw Power: 55/55
Run: 50/50 Glove: 50/50
Most Likely Future Role: Everyday regular in RF
Ceiling: Above-average regular in RF
What we know: Diaz sacrificed some contact quantity/quality for increased power and loft upon being traded to the Orioles in the Manny Machado deal. Despite being hobbled by lower body injuries and playing in an extreme pitcher-friendly league, he posted his best isolated power numbers of his career. He achieved this by changing his swing to prioritize loft. The result was a pull-heavy approach that increased his tendency to strikeout and led to weak contact at times. Despite that, he was one of the best all-around hitters in the league, hitting 35% better than league average. Still it was disappointing that he wasn’t able to force his way to Norfolk. Defensively, he didn’t show well with a hamstring issue really hampering his quickness.
What we don’t know: How much did injuries limit him in 2019? If they didn’t directly inhibit his performance, they at least hampered his ability to get on a roll. Will he rise to the level of competition he faces or will his inconsistent effort/focus hamper him going forward? Diaz lives for the big moment, big spot in the game and can come off as bored or distracted in other situations.
What we think: As long as the body/physical tools don’t back up, I think he’s going to be a solid average MLB right-fielder. I think getting out of minor league stadiums and into the show will only help him. The transition to power hitter, while it’ll hurt his batting average, will help his patient approach play in the majors. He’s always been willing to take a walk and that’ll continue as long as he produces enough power to keep pitchers honest. He showed that type of power this year. Even though he wasn’t at his best defensively in 2019, the tools are there for a solid average corner outfield glove with the arm for right. It’s a relatively low variance profile, not a star, but a solid regular.
Another Take: Injuries derailed his season a bit so it’s hard to sometimes access whether his early struggles were rustiness or a level adjustment. Diaz is at his best when he using all fields and allowing his natural power to play, but appeared to try and pull and loft the ball more in 2019 in an attempt to add game power and that saw him struggle with breaking and offspeed pitches. Slashed .299/.353/.514/.867 in 119 PAs in August when a quad injury sent him back to the IL (He missed a month in late April-May). He needs to improve his plan at the plate, but he has plenty of bat speed and raw power that if he puts it together he has a cahnce to be a solid average major league outfielder. Defensively he’s average across the board, but his body shape leads to some concerns about him losing a step as he matures. At times Diaz can appear to be disinterested and may be one of those players that performs better when the “lights are on,” suggesting he could play better in the big leagues than in the minors. Diaz is still young for his level and he performed well when he finally got adjusted, but he needs to stay healthy and put up a good year in AAA next year where the juiced balls should help his numbers. (Tony Pente)