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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospects for 2015: #9 - Aledmys Diaz

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The Cuban import lost most of his initial professional season to a shoulder injury but he showed enough in his initial run of games in Springfield that he makes it into the top ten.

Aledmys Diaz
Aledmys Diaz
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired: Free agent, 2014, Cuba: 4 years, $8 million

Birthday: 8/1/1990

Age: 24

Minor League Stops in 2014: Springfield (AA), Palm Beach (A+)

2014 Totals:

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

K%

BB%

wOBA

179 .273 .324 .441 .168 19% 5% .345


F-R Grades:

(You can find the primer on the 20-80 grading scale here)

Hit

Run

Arm

Field

Power

50 55 50 45 50


Diaz has just those 179 PA's stateside, but I watched a good chunk of them on MiLB.tv in April. Diaz had 8 multi-hit games among his first 34 appearances in Springfield, including a pair of 4 hit contests with multiple extra base hits in his third and fourth starts. While he's an aggressive hitter, Diaz makes very good contact and squares the ball up more often than not, as the better-than-average ISO marks indicate.

<iframe width="960" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cO3NSZrYoBc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The big issue most had with him out of the gate last year was his walk rate, as he walked just twice compared to 24 K's over his first 125 PA's in AA. Last April I chalked much of that up to mostly getting lots of good pitches to hit early in counts and putting those pitches in play. Diaz may have also been pressing a bit to show what he could do in his debut. Regardless, the 7 walks in 54 PA's in the Florida State League last August should abate some of those concerns.

My questions have less to do with his approach, which I believe to be average or a bit above, and more with how pull happy he was last year. Just look at his hit chart:

All his homers were to left field and more than half of his doubles were down the left field line. What's more, most of the balls put in play to the right side of the diamond were of the weak variety -- you could classify just about all the fly balls in that direction as "pop-ups" if you wanted to, given the shallow portion of the outfield in which they were caught. Most who follow F-R know how much I loathe Patrick Wisdom as a prospect due to his dead pull tendencies and Diaz's spray chart looks far too much like Wisdom's for my taste.  Given the number of PA's this doesn't concern me a ton...yet. But in many of the games I watched him in he certainly wants to hit the ball out in front of the plate. That's something that will make him susceptible to being pitched backwards with soft stuff away (leading to a lot of ground balls to the left side of the infield when he rolls over on them), as Diaz fails to let the ball travel into the strike zone despite having the hands and short swing necessary to do so.  He can clearly go the other way, as this next clip shows, he just seems to choose not to a good chunk of the time:

<iframe width="960" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/e8WY-xhoFUE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The other questions on Diaz surround his position on the field. Up to this point, he's played nothing but SS with the Cardinals and was the SS on the Cuban National team for most of his time there. Diaz has the range and hands to man the position, but his fringe average arm concerned more than a few scouts prior to his signing a year ago as most had him moving to the keystone in the long term. Obviously if he can be a regular at the shortstop position that is where the Cardinals will want him in the long term and I certainly think that he can be at least average there over short stints.

2015 Outlook:

That's important, because if his bat plays, Diaz is competing with Dean Anna, Greg Garcia, and Jacob Wilson for a utility role with the big club at some point in 2015 and should that need arise, it will likely be because Pete Kozma has vacated the roster. Should that happen, whoever the replacement is will have to be able to play some innings to the left of second base and it would likely be the best way for that player to get on the field too, assuming Ty Kelly plays as well as I expect Ty Kelly to play this year. Wilson can't play the position at all, Garcia is a below average defender there, and Anna doesn't project to have the bat that Diaz does.

Assuming his bat takes off to start the year at AA and his 2014 shoulder woes are behind him, I think there's a very good chance we see Aledmys Diaz in St. Louis in the second half of the 2015 season.

Overall Grade: B