Astros’ Yainer Diaz Has Rare Offensive Attributes At Catcher

Seventeen months ago, Yainer Diaz broke with his first full-season affiliate. His ascension since is nothing short of stupendous, culminating with a September callup and a place on the Astros’ playoff taxi squad.

“I just think he performed, as simple as that is,” Houston field coordinator Jason Bell said. “Every chance he got, he took it and ran with it.”

Korey Lee is a better pure defender and still profiles as the Astros’ catcher of the future, but Diaz’s hit tool is making him hard to ignore.

Acquired by the Astros from Cleveland at the 2021 trade deadline, Diaz hit .306/356/.542 with 25 home runs in 105 games this season across stints with Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land.

“He just kept hitting, as simple as that sounds,” Bell said. “It’s tough to find catchers who hit really well at all levels, especially that quick. Thirteen, 14 months ago, he was in Low-A. Every shot he got, he never really stepped backwards. He forced the hand.”

Diaz is a swing-happy righthanded hitter with an innate ability to cover all portions of the strike zone. He drew walks 7% of the time and stuck out just 16% this season.

“His style is to swing,” Bell said. “You don’t want to change who someone is, but you also don’t want them to turn their strength into a negative. That’s part of who he is as a hitter. It just becomes how to maintain the ability to do that without chasing too much.”

The 24-year-old Diaz has a compact 6-foot frame but generates more than enough power to pair with an elite contact rate.

“He has natural bat-to-ball and he has juice,” Bell said. “A lot of times you probably don’t see that. You may see contact, but you may not see power—and he was able to display both. I feel like that’s kind of a rare quality, especially from that position.”

The number of catchers with Diaz’s offensive upside is dwindling. Houston counts itself lucky to have one of them.



— The Astros carried catchers Korey Lee and Yainer Diaz on their postseason taxi squad.

— Triple-A Sugar Land righthander Forrest Whitley missed his final start of the season with what the Astros described as “right shoulder discomfort,” but general manager James Click called the scratch a precaution. Whitley threw 40 innings this season, his first since having Tommy John surgery.

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