Isan Diaz Helps Power Marlins' Rebuild
Second baseman Isan Diaz, who turns 22 in May, already has been traded twice—a sign that he is an in-demand prospect.
But the first time he was dealt, from the Diamondbacks to the Brewers before the 2016 season, he was blindsided.
"I was in a movie theater, watching 'Collateral Beauty' with my family,” Diaz said. "I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize, and it was Milwaukee’s general manager (David Stearns)."
The second time Diaz was traded was this past Jan. 25. The Marlins sent outfielder Christian Yelich to the Brewers for four prospects, including three ranked among Milwaukee’s top 10: No. 1 Lewis Brinson, No. 5 Monte Harrison and No. 9 Diaz.
This time, a more mature Diaz was anticipating a trade. He was watching MLB Network on Dec. 7, when the Marlins traded Dee Gordon and remembered thinking: "I could be a part of (the Marlins)."
A little more than one month later, he was, and he now believes his future is becoming clearer.
Diaz, a native of Puerto Rico, moved with his family to Springfield, Mass., when he was 4. Rather than root for the local Red Sox, Diaz—a shortstop growing up—grew up a Yankees fan, idolizing Derek Jeter.
Now, of course, Jeter runs the Marlins as chief executive officer. "When you first meet him,” Diaz said, "you go, ‘Wow! That’s Derek Jeter!' "
The Marlins are excited about Diaz, too. They believe the lefthanded hitter has plus bat speed and the ability to consistently make hard contact. A 2014 supplemental second-round pick out of high school, Diaz turned down his college commitment to Vanderbilt in order to play pro ball.
He launched 13 home runs to win MVP honors in the 2015 Rookie-level Pioneer League, and he followed with 20 more at low Class A Wisconsin in 2016. Last season he hit .222/.334/.376 with 13 home runs in 110 games at high Class A Carolina in the Brewers' system.
Raw power is clearly Diaz's best tool, and he has gotten bigger by about 20 pounds over the past year-plus. The 5-foot-10 middle infielder is now up to 203 pounds, and his batting stance reminds some of Robinson Cano.
So when will Diaz be ready for Marlins Park?
"I can’t control when I get called up," Diaz said, “but I would like it to be as soon as possible—the faster the better."
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>> Diaz and Harrison, both products of the Yelich trade, began the season at Double-A Jacksonville.
>> Low Class A Greensboro righthander Brady Puckett, a 15th-round pick out of Lipscomb last year, made some mechanical tweaks and was finding success with his new pitch, a two-seam fastball.