Here at Viva el Birdos we have been tracking the progress of Aldemys Diaz for awhile. That is kinda what we do, you know. Here is an article from Joe Schwarz just before the Cardinals signed him:
We all know the statistics by now. He hit .308 in Serie Nacional de Beisbol in Cuba from 2008 through 2012. In his last season before he defected (2012), he hit 12 home runs in 270 at bats. That's impressive, but how will this production at the plate translate to Major League Baseball?
Joe also exchanged e-mails with Joe Kehoskie, a former player agent who now serves as a baseball consultant who had this to say about Diaz at the time:
He is a very heady player with considerable baseball savvy, but he just didn't seem to have the physical tools or reaction time to play in a big league infield. He put up decent offensive numbers in Cuba, but that was a few seasons back at the time there were dozens of .300-plus hitters in the league and when Cuban rosters were filled with numerous young pitchers who struggled to throw above 80 mph and who had one-pitch arsenals.
First and foremost, the slugging percentage and ISO are quite desirable, especially for a middle infielder. However, it would be ideal if he could increase his on-base percentage and cut down on his strikeouts in 2015 and beyond.
The consensus was this: Diaz can hit.
Of course, we all know the story of the injuries to Jhonny Peralta and Ruben Tejada opening the door for the shortstop and while at the time we were worried, we were still excited to finally see what Diaz could do. So was Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs:
Anyone realistically available would be a low-upside player, and Diaz has his own selling points. This is almost a perfect opportunity to see what he can do over the short-term..
Of course, no one really expected what he did from there. Diaz came out swinging and swinging well. Too well, in fact. Pitchers were forced to take notice, and they figured out a way to attack him. From Joe, again:
Pitchers have officially adjusted their approach to Diaz, so it is now time for him to return the favor. He is pulling too many outside pitches into the ground. He needs to return to driving these pitches the other way. A good start would be seeing middle pitches slightly longer before depositing them to right, instead of lunging and ultimately rolling over on them to short.
Oh, and taking a walk every once in a while could help, too.
Until he adjusted back. Per Sullivan of Fangraphs:
But organizations always want to see how their players respond to failure. Diaz responded to failure in the minors by beating the crap out of the ball, and Diaz has responded to failure in the majors by adjusting, taking pitches, and hitting well again.
Of course the saga of Aledmys Diaz is far from over, and he still probably makes too many errors at shortstop, but the bottom line is Aledmys Diaz has developed into an excellent hitter.
And now he is an All Star.
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