Yainer Diaz promoted to Triple-A – Is he in the first base mix of the Big League?

Swapping fan favorite Myles Straw was a hard pill to swallow for many of the Astros faithful, but one piece of the comeback that seemed to generate some excitement was young receiver Yainer Diaz and his impressive offensive production. He was set to make his full season debut in 2020 before the season was canceled, forcing him to wait until his 22-year season to do so. When he finally got the chance, he raked to the beat of a .314 / .357 / .464 slash before the trade, and he was starting to get back on seeker radars.

The Astros quickly promoted Diaz to High-A after acquiring him, and he really opened his eyes to the long haul by hitting 11 home runs in just 25 matches at level and scoring 16% of the time. His efforts of him were good for a .396 / .438 / .781 cut, and as he was Rule 5 eligible after the 2021 season, they could actually have made the Astros front office sweat a little when they decided. not to add him to the 40-men list. This may have been partly why he was expendable in Cleveland, where they tend to be in a perennial state of roster crunch, but ultimately wasn’t selected because he wasn’t seen as ready on the defensive and had no experience with players. higher minors.

Back in the Houston organization for 2022, Diaz was pushed straight into Double A and handled the jump smoothly. In 57 games with the Hooks, he scored .316 / .367 / .504 with 9 home runs, once again maintaining a tidy 15% strikeout rate, good for a 121 wRC +. An exclusive catcher for his entire tenure in Cleveland and for most of 2021, he has taken multiple starts at first base this season, even getting some work in the outer corners. He still has 23 games, but continues to draw mediocre reviews for his work behind the pot: he has already conceded 24 steals in the year, albeit with an acceptable CS rate of 33%.

While defense continues to be a work in progress, he quickly learned the double A pitch and that was enough to earn him a fairly quick promotion. He has yet to make his Sugar Land debut and will likely continue to get most of his defensive work early with Korey Lee and Scott Manea already on the roster there. Scouts have always questioned his ability to stay behind the pot, and the Astros are probably hoping that at best he can make a start or two there a week if the club plays to give them some extra flexibility in the game. roster. There is a chance that he will work his way into the Big League first base role, but his power of him will need to be strengthened, as he will have to outdo fellow potential Enmanuel Valdez who has shown much more pop. Diaz has a distinct advantage in the hitting tools department, but I think either of them will have to hit cover from the ball to win the job, as Gurriel continues to offer big defensive advantages and the Astros tend to a half change aversion. season.

Diaz’s bat is almost ready for the big league, but at this point his playing power isn’t big enough to put him in a daily corner role. If he can gain the team’s trust in him as a reserve catcher and / or left defender, he could fit well as an offensive-minded bench player with enough versatility to get by. There is also the possibility of his power erupting again, and this is not an outcome that I would rule out entirely, but it would require significant approach development that tends to happen earlier in player careers than where Diaz is now. The Astros must be happy with the ease with which he handled the tough transition to Double A, but for now I expect his stay in Triple A to be longer.

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