In a rare August trade of two minor leaguers not targeted as stretch-drive contributors, the Rangers acquired outfielder Victor Diaz from the Mets on Wednesday for catcher Mike Nickeas.
Diaz, 24, sent the Cubs into a final-week tailspin in 2004 with a three-run, ninth-inning homer off LaTroy Hawkins, and he spent much of 2005 in the majors with the Mets. But he has been relegated to Triple-A Norfolk for most of 2006, hitting a disappointing .224/.276/.330 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 103 games. Diaz’ best tool is his bat, and he consistently produced for power and average throughout his previous minor league career. He doesn’t do much else, as he’s a below-average runner and defender who moved from second base to the outfield in 2004. He’s a career .260/.324/.471 hitter with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 110 major league contests.
Nickeas, 23, was a fifth-round pick out of Georgia Tech in 2004. After a strong pro debut, he has struggled the last two seasons while battling a broken right hand (2005) and hamstring problems (2006). In 56 games between high Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco this year, he has hit .266/.386/.362 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 56 games. His swing is stiff and complicated, so he may never hit for a high average, but he does have some pop and is solid behind the plate. He’s a good receiver with an average arm.