Yennsy Diaz Pens To-Do List For 2020
The Blue Jays used 37 different pitchers during the 2019 season, not including the two position players who logged innings, which is why 22-year-old righthander Yennsy Diaz’s brief stint in the majors is easy to forget.
But Diaz, who threw two-thirds of an inning during an Aug. 4 big league debut and was called up as emergency depth for the last four games of the season, represents a near-term option for a Toronto club desperate for pitchers.
While he didn’t dominate at Double-A this season, Diaz more than held his own by recording a 3.74 ERA over 144.1 innings with a WHIP of 1.23 and 116 strikeouts.
The next step for him is "developing an out-pitch breaking ball,” farm director Gil Kim said, giving “a guy who's mainly fastball/changeup” an extra weapon.
Diaz owns a good fastball—he threw 22 of them at average speed of 96 mph in Baltimore during a messy debut in which he lost the zone and walked four batters—but generated his three swinging strikes out of the nine changeups he threw coming in as a reliever that day.
The other two pitches were curveballs, but he is working on improving his slider, an offering he said “has come a long way.”
“Earlier this season, I didn’t have great command of (my slider). But now it's getting there,” said Diaz, whom the Blue Jays signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. “The command is good; I can locate it. And it's going to get better. The key is throwing it just like my fastball—same angle, same arm slot. And then, at the end, it moves like a slider. I'm trying to make them look as similar as possible.”
Diaz accomplished a lot in the minor leagues this season and was happy to reach the majors.
“I worked hard, stayed healthy," Diaz said. "I got called up, pitched my first major league outing. I wasn't too happy with myself and how it went. I was a little bit nervous. That's not who I am. But it happens. I was very happy just reaching the majors—I’m very proud of myself."