|No. 3 — Edwin Diaz, RHP
|Acquired: Third Round, 2012 Draft — Caguas Military Academy (P.R.)
I’m not quite as high on Diaz as some, mostly due to questions about future role and timetable, but I’m not ready to lean toward a future in the bullpen (that’s the easy,cop-out evaluation you may read elsewhere) simply because at 21 he’s still in need of putting on some good weight and developing a legitimate changeup.
Sitting 90-94 with a fastball showing late life to his arm side, Diaz sets up an average slider that flashes plus and an occasional changeup that, in the California League last summer was good enough but once he hit Jackson, the more experienced hitters weren’t fooled and even laid off the slider and forced Diaz to attacked the zone more.
Diaz isn’t going to blow any doors off with velocity, so he’ll need to command his fastball better and learn to backdoor the slider in fastball counts to left-handed batters, which also takes some pressure off the changeup. He’s athletic, which bodes well for health purposes, as does fairly clean arm action. He does cut himself off sometimes, but that’s an easy fix, relatively speaking.
He’s two or three years away in a starting role, likely returning to the Southern League to start 2016. If his development stagnates over the next year-plus, a role change could be in order, which greatly reduces his overall potential value. It’s not closer stuff, but Diaz the reliever could serve in a setup role if his future isn’t in the rotation as a No. 3.
The wise move is to ride out Diaz’s physical development and reassess his command, ability to repeat his delivery — which greatly improved in 2015 — and the changeup before determine what his ultimate fit may be at the big-league level. Another year in Jackson and at least a full year in Triple-A Tacoma is due. Sans a September call-up next season (2017), Diaz’s ETA likely is 2018.