In these strangest of times, a minor leaguer’s stock can rise almost from nowhere.
That has happened to 25-year-old Edwin Diaz, a 6-foot-2, 223-pound third baseman/shortstop who has made prodigious improvements in the last few years.
The Athletics drafted Diaz in the 15th round in 2013 out of high school in Puerto Rico. It is not about what he has done—it is about what he might do if needed.
It’s almost impossible for teams to plan for a 2021 season that could be cut short or played with limited fans. Teams already lost money in 2020, and investing in free agents for an uncertain season is a risk. That is where players like Diaz comes in.
If the A’s choose not to spend on free agents, Diaz would have a chance to compete for a utility job.
“He has some of the best hands I have ever seen,” A’s minor league coach Bobby Crosby said. “Not just from a minor league standpoint, but compared to the big leaguers I played with and against as well.”
The A’s could lose shortstop Marcus Semien and second baseman Tommy La Stella to free agency. Chad Pinder could fill one job, and there are other candidates. But the A’s would still need depth as the season progressed, and Crosby believes Diaz could fill a role.
“Defensively he can handle any spot on the infield and handle it well,” Crosby said. “He’s not the fastest guy, but his reactions and baseball instincts are so good he can definitely play shortstop.”
Diaz split the 2019 season playing both shortstop and third at Double-A Midland, where Crosby coached. Crosby was recently named to manage the RockHounds for the 2021 season.
The bat will be a bigger question. Diaz has shown average to plus power, but the ability to hit consistently has been a problem, though Crosby is optimistic about an improvement.
Diaz followed up a poor 2018 campaign by hitting .238/.320/.439 with 57 extra-base hits in 127 games at Double-A. Now, in the worst of times for baseball planning, it could be the best of times for Diaz.
— Casey Upperman will be returning to the A’s for his second season after the first was cut short. The former righthander serves as the throwing performance coach, and his job includes developing programs for pitchers and position players to improve arm strength and maintain health.
— Adam Rosales has been named manager of the organization’s Rookie-level Arizona League club, giving the former big leaguer his first shot at managing. Rico Brogna will manage the club’s Low-A affiliate.