Playing Outfield Opens Doors For Diaz
CLEVELAND—The question isn’t whether Yandy Diaz can hit. He can. The question is his future position? Answer: to be determined.
The righthanded-hitting Cuban native signed in September 2013 and began his career in the Indians system in 2014 as a third baseman. In 2016 he also played second base and the corner outfield.
In the Venezuelan League this offseason, Diaz played only outfield.
Wherever he has played, the 25-year-old has hit. In his three minor league seasons he has hit .307/.403/.410 with more walks (198) than strikeouts (191).
"Yandy continues to show that his bat can play at the highest levels,” assistant general manager Carter Hawkins said.
Through 40 games with Caracas this winter, Diaz hit .371 with 20 walks. That came after he hit .318/.408/.446 in a combined 121 games at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in 2016.
The move to the outfield could be Diaz’s ticket to the majors. With Jose Ramirez now entrenched at third base in Cleveland, and with the Indians having question marks in the outfield—Michael Brantley’s health being the biggest—developing Diaz as an outfielder makes the most sense.
"The opportunity for him to carry the offensive momentum from a strong 2016 into the winter, while continuing to grow his experience in the outfield, was very appealing to us,” Hawkins said. "He made the most of his time and positioned himself to take advantage of new opportunities in 2017.”
Diaz will likely start in Columbus but could be an outfield option at some point in 2017, though the Indians plan to keep him sharp in the infield to maintain his versatility.
"(His position) will depend on a lot of things out of his control,” Hawkins said, "but if he continues to improve on both sides of the ball, he’s bound to be a guy we’re looking to for help at the major league level.”
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