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Outfielder Yusniel Diaz is currently the Orioles Hangout #6 rated prospect and the Baltimore Orioles #5 rated prospect on MLB Pipeline. Once considered the centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Diaz is, in my opinion, facing a make-or-break year in 2020.

Diaz, who is not on the 40-man roster and will be open to exposure in the 2020 Rule-5 draft, needs a good year to prove his worthiness for the 40-man roster and to add another positive to the Machado trade.

One member of that trade, pitcher Dean Kremer, was added to the 40-man roster this year in order to stay in the organization while another member of the trade, infielder Rylan Bannon, is proving to be a prospect on the rise. Diaz reaching his potential would certainly make the Machado much more favorable in the eyes of the fan base.

The key for Diaz is to reach AAA Norfolk and prove to be healthy for an entire season as his 2019 season was marked by two trips to the injured list which prevented him from advancing past AA Bowie.

Diaz finished his 2019 season in Bowie with a .262/ .335/ .472/ .807 slash line with 11 homeruns and 53 RBI.  He was also named the Eastern League’s Player of the Week on June 16th.

Showing what he can do when healthy, Diaz had a torrid month of July. Playing in 28 games he hit .299/ .353/ .514/ .867 with 2 homeruns and 22 RBI; his performance was vital to Bowie’s turnaround and push to the EL playoffs. Diaz did all this while being, on average, 2 years younger than his AA peers.

With youth and potential on his side, should Diaz produce comparable numbers in Norfolk in 2020, we may very well see him in Baltimore sooner rather than later.

Much has been said about the return for Manny Machado. Diaz’s success in 2020 along with the positive returns to date from Kremer and Bannon will put that trade in a very good light. They key is the 2020 season for Diaz.