If you keep your ear to the prospect ground, you might have heard the name Isan Diaz, Milwaukee Brewers, being bandied about recently. Where is this hollowed “prospect ground” I speak of? You can start with John Sickels’ awesome site Minorleagueball.com. Then, make sure not to miss Eric Longenhagen’s great prospect chats every Monday on Fangraphs. Last but certainly not least, Keith Law’s personal blog, The Dish, is a must read for prospect hounds, especially his weekly chats. All of these pillars of the prospect community have spoken this man’s name in recent weeks, and it is time for me to jump on the Isan Diaz bandwagon (I’ve actually been planning on writing this post for like a month now, but hearing the groundswell of hype he has gotten recently has inspired me to finally do it).
The 5’10’’, 20-year-old Diaz is a small second baseman, which means he needs to put up a herculean effort in the minors to even sniff top 100 prospect lists. Small second baseman are discriminated against so much in the prospect world that the U.S. Supreme Court should declare them a “protected class.” What Diaz has done in the last two months at Single-A is forcing people to take notice, though, putting up a slash line of .316/.393/.579 with 5 homers in June, and then following that up by slamming 7 homers in July with a .340/.429/.701 triple-slash. He has a very quick, compact swing that packs a wallop, and has a plan at the plate too, walking over 10% of the time. There is also a little speed here, swiping 10 bags, but he is far from a speed demon, so the stolen base totals should always be modest.
Like a lot of my favorite prospect sleepers, Diaz has some strikeout issues, striking out 24.7% of the time. And as good as he has been in the last two months, he was equally as bad in the first two, OPS’ing .654 in April, and .559 in May. Defensively, while he has played more SS in his career than 2B, he has played almost exclusively at 2B in the last month, and most scouts believe 2B will be his ultimate home.
Small second baseman can’t get no respect, but Diaz is doing his best to overcome that bias. If he finishes the season anywhere close to as strong as he has played in the last two months, there is no doubt he will crack the back end of top 100 lists in the off-season. In his prime, I will give him a projection of 80/18/74/.265/10, and if he can improve his K rate, there is room for much more.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)