Every Friday we will be doing a profile and analysis of a farmhand on our team. We will look at their background, the future projections from scouts, the associated risk of them booming or busting, and then share our take on what they will most likely develop. We will do one a week up until pitchers and catchers report, and will be counting down our top ten prospects (more or less who I see to be our top ten).
Today we are covering our #7 prospect Yusniel Diaz
- Name: Yusniel Diaz
- DOB/Age: October 7, 1996 – 21 years old
- Height/Weight: 6’1″/195lbs
- Home State/Country: Cuba
- Highest Level Reached: AA
- On the 40-Man Roster: No
- ETA: 2019
Other Notable Rankings
- Baseball America: #6
- Baseball Prospectus: #6
- MLB.com: #5
(1-10, with 1 being very low, and 10 being very high)
4 – Yusniel Diaz has proven himself capable at every level he has played at, and in fact got even better at AA in 2017. He had a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League this year. At a minimum, we are looking at a very useful platoon 4th outfielder. Something akin to a right-handed version of Andrew Toles. He has a solid ceiling, but nothing extraordinary, yet because of his great bat-to-ball skills and plus-defense he is a fairly low-risk prospect.
Born in Cuba, Diaz is our first prospect that cracks multiple top 100 prospect lists. He was part of the Dodgers international spending spree in 2015 where the Dodgers brought in other talents like Yadier Alvarez, Starling Heredia, Omar Estevez, and Ronny Brito. As a result of being the second highest paid player from that pool of players, he came with high expectations like Yadier Alvarez.
His debut in 2016 at Rookie Level and High-A ball was solid with a slash line of .267/.326/.415. Even though he only spent three games at Rookie Level ball, his OPS at Rancho Cucamonga was actually better at .751 for the season. Not too bad of a first impression for a 19 year old straight out of Cuba. This performance instantly put him in many top 10 lists for the club.
Subsequently, 2017 brought more of the same in terms of meeting the expectations set for him with the organization’s fairly aggressive assignments. Continuing his solid performance with the RC Quakes, the Dodgers rewarded him with a mid-season promotion to AA in Tulsa.
Interestingly his splits got even better at AA. In 83 games at High-A, he slashed .278/.343/.414. At Double-A he improved to hit .333/.390/.491 in 31 games. Which was nice to see since the Cal League (High-A) is considered more hitter friendly than the Texas League (AA).
Additionally, his defense continues to impress, and he is expected to play in center-field in the long run. Certainly he has the speed, instincts, and arm to play there. One area that continues to confound is that he hasn’t been able to translate his plus speed into stolen bases.
So far Yusniel Diaz has only stolen 16 bases and been caught 22 times. So despite some plus speed, he cannot be expected to be a stolen base threat. Like many other players in the Dodgers’ organization even though he isn’t a stolen base threat, he is still quick and efficient on the base-paths.
So what does the future hold for Yusniel Diaz? Well, he’ll most likely start 2018 at Double-A after finishing the 2017 season there. It’s expected that if his upward trajectory continues he could end up in Triple-A by the end of 2018 season. With his excellent Double-A showing in 2017, and a solid follow on in the Arizona Fall League, expectations are higher than ever for Yusniel.
His ceiling projections are that of a fringe All-Star caliber center-fielder with average power. Conceivably with that ceiling, he could hit .300/.350/.450 at the Major League level. Most likely he will be somewhere in the ballpark of the .750 OPS range. With plus defense, and decent value on the base-paths that would be useful to play for the Dodgers.
— Tulsa Drillers (@TulsaDrillers) November 2, 2017
Diaz will probably never be a blue chip prospect, but he has been consistent since he debuted in 2016. Indeed that steady consistency has made him a desirable prospect for other teams in trade discussions. However, it would be much more beneficial for the Dodgers to hold him. 2018 will be a great opportunity for Diaz to further improve his prospect stock. How high his value is will be contingent upon him repeating his Double-A success and possibly even build on it. No one expects him to be more than a 15 HR hitter, but if he can hit over .300, that would be awesome!
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