It’s Time to Start Learning About Yandy Diaz
Danny Madden | On 04, Aug 2015
The Indians may have something special brewing at third base in Akron.
Third base may be one of the shallowest positions through the Indians minor league system. They currently have Giovanny Urshela manning the hot corner, with Lonnie Chisenhall also able to fill that role, as he has been there on and off for the last five seasons. Aside from the two of them, there are bunch of guys that don’t really stand out as someone to fill that role if either Chisenhall or Urshela went down. Well, that was until Yandy Diaz started popping up this year.
Diaz, 23, is the current third basemen for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks. He stands tall at 6’2” was weighed at 185 pounds when he signed his contract, but he’s closer to 225-230 pounds now, and batting from the right side of the plate. He was signed by the Indians out of Cuba, and is only in his second full season in professional baseball. He spent some time at High-A Carolina last season where he played in 76 games and hit a solid .286/.396/.367 with 7 doubles, 5 triples, 2 home runs and 37 RBI. He walked 49 times, and only struck out 35. He missed a good chunk of time last season due to a wrist injury.
Since he’s only in his second season in the minors, Diaz has relatively flown under the radar. Along with not having any power to speak of yet, he hasn’t blown anybody away as a top prospect in the Indians system. Obviously a wrist injury can sap a lot of power away, and take a bit of your timing away as you try and get your swing back in order. As big of a player as Diaz is, the power will eventually develop.
“I think he has it. He drives some balls,” RubberDucks manager David Wallace says. “He barrels it up and hits it hard, and he drives it. The powers there, and you just got to think it keeps showing up. Absolutely no concern that he hasn’t hit more home runs.”
This season, Diaz is hitting .303/.401/.372 with 8 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs, and 73 RBI. What’s surprising about Diaz is how much speed he has for how big he is. His 4 triples and 8 stolen basis are extremely surprising for someone with his build. What makes Diaz really stand out among the rest of the players in Double-A Akron is that he has 64 walks to 52 strikeouts. In Double-A, he’s leading the league in walks by a margin of 8 walks. The next closest guy is Brock Stassi with 56 walks.
“I’d start with his eye at the plate, his pitch selection and plate discipline is some of the best I’ve seen,” Wallace says about Diaz and all of his walks.
Looking through Diaz’ monthly stats, he’s batted over .300 for two months, and is near .300 in July. He’s one of the most consistent batters that the Indians have. You know, almost, exactly what you’re getting with Diaz comes to the plate. His eye at the plate is just as good as Carlos Santana, but his bat is much more consistent. Even though most of his hits drop down for singles, he almost always finds a way to get on base. He generally has been batting third in the lineup behind Todd Hankins and whoever is sliding into the two hole that day, with Bradley Zimmer batting behind him. He’s already totaled up 112 hits this season, but only 15 of those hits have dropped down for extra base hits.
“He just hits man. Some guys, you just look at him and you see the numbers and you try to break it down. I chuck it up to the guy can just hit. I’m glad he’s on our side,” Wallace says.
With how consistent he is at the plate, what makes him so successful is that he just doesn’t swing at bad pitches. This goes along with his discipline at the plate, but it’s more than that, which reaches out to why his power looks so non-existent.
While some guys will swing at pitches that are slightly out of the zone, but allows them to full extend and drive a pitch, Diaz will generally let that ball go. He also doesn’t have a “power swing” as some would describe it. He just swings for to hit singles, and that’s usually what it results in. His power will develop as he becomes more accustomed to the league, but he’ll need to work on his plate discipline and be able to determine when he can swing for the fences more often, instead of just hitting to get on base.
As far as his defense is concerned, he got gold glove caliber defense. After being able to see Urshela man the hot corner for the RubberDucks last season, they get to witness another gold glover in the making with Diaz this season.
With the lack of right handed bats in the Indians system, and what little prospects at third base they have, Diaz should fly through their system with no problem. Right now, Urshela is going to be manning the hot corner for the foreseeable future. If it turns out that he may not be their guy next season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Diaz up in Cleveland at some point in 2016. He provides a lot of tools that the Indians could utilize from a position that has been generally weak for the last decade or so. If he can find his power swing, that will only make him more valuable to the team in the future. There’s no doubt though that Diaz will be contributing to the big league club sooner rather than later
PhotoL Lianna Holub/DTTWLN Photographer