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Dodgers Farm-Hand Fridays: Breaking Down Yusniel Diaz

Dodgers

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).

Previous Prospects: #10 Dennis Santana; #9 Will Smith; #8 DJ Peters

Today we are covering our #7 prospect Yusniel Diaz

The Basics

  • 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

Risk Level

(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.

The Past
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.

The Present
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.

The Future
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.

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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Written by Blake Coble

Born and raised in SoCal and bled Blue my whole life. Absolutely love baseball and absolutely love the Boys in Blue! I have a fascination with analyzing the statistics and trends that drive player performance, and I love following our minor league prospects as well! Active duty Air Force currently stationed in Central California! Follow me on Twitter @yarritsblake

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  1. I think you are vastly under valuing the potential of Diaz. He did not turn 21 until after the 2017 season; he was 4 years younger than the average age in the Texas League and more than held his own. I got to see him play in the AZ Fall League and he has top notch bat to ball skills and was able to pull elite fastballs from pitchers much older. Strength, maturity, and coaching will turn Diaz into a top MLB prospect. Look for him in CF or RF before 2020.

    • Can’t really say he’s being undervalued when we’re acknowledging his year by year improvements at various levels.

        • Generally speaking, “Blue Chip” prospects are considered Top 25 prospect talent whose projected ceilings are regular All-Stars/Elite level players. Examples of this in our system recently are Seager, Bellinger, Urias, Buehler, etc. Diaz is certainly an excellent prospect, and his ranking of #7 in our system is more a testament to our system depth than anything else. I had a hard time with my #5-7 prospect rankings because those 3 prospects could have easily been ranked in any one of these spots. More or less, these rankings (#5-7) are gut rankings, as the differences between these particular prospects is minimal. Hopefully as you read my #6 and #5 rankings in the next two weeks you may understand better why I ranked each player the way I did.

  2. Diaz rated a 4 on your 1 to 10 risk scale with 1 being lowest — another reason why I believe you are under valuing this VERY young and talented player

  3. I agree with SocalBum. Your article is a little confusing. You make him sound like he is destined to be the next Lorenzo Cain but say he might be a 4th outfielder. If the Dodgers are holding on to him, we are in need of a long term cf, his numbers are getting better and his ranking is as high as it is, why the hesitation in his projections?

  4. You’ve got an emerging multi-tool player with all +s (pluses) to his credit.. Appears to me he is a ‘keeper’.. For many reasons..

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