Righthander Alexis Diaz had flashed signs in the past as a reliever to watch for, but the 25-year-old was able to really start putting things together in 2021.
“I think a full bounce back after a year off from Covid, he was more consistent,” Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender said.
“He ran through a couple points this summer where I think he had a little dead arm, a little fatigue, but overall he showed two plus pitches and was dominating.”
The 12th-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Puerto Rico spent the season with Double-A Chattanooga, where he posted a 3.83 ERA in 42.1 innings. Diaz gave up 30 hits with two home runs, walked 20 batters and struck out 70 of the 180 hitters he faced.
Diaz performed well against batters on both sides of the plate and allowed a .194 opponent average overall.
Diaz throws a plus fastball that works in the mid 90s and touches 98 mph, a plus slider that works in the upper 80s and a solid changeup. Those pitches combined with his performance in Double-A this season led to Cincinnati to add Diaz to its 40-man roster ahead of the Nov. 19 reserve roster deadline. That shielded him from the Rule 5 draft.
Diaz will attend his first spring training with the big league club in 2022, but not before pitching in the Puerto Rican League this winter. He will try to make his MLB debut in 2022.
“We’re hopeful that will give him a little more innings to build himself up,” Pender said. “He’s around the plate. You’d like to see him be able to command his entire mix just a tick better.
‘It’s a development process. It’s not like he had below-average command and control, it’s always solid. You start moving up to higher levels (and) you’d like to see it happen a little more consistently.”