14. Eddy Diaz (178 points, 12 ballots)
Eddy Diaz was Colorado’s first amateur free agent signing out of Cuba when he inked a contract for $750K in 2017 as a 17-year-old. From there, “Fast Eddy” stole our hearts (and 84 bases) with two strong debut years in the Dominican Summer League, then solidified that feeling with an excellent stateside debut in Grand Junction in 2019.
The 20-year-old middle infielder — who split his time in 2019 between second and short with Grand Junction — was 1.6 years younger than the average Pioneer League pitcher, but he didn’t let that slow him down. In 177 PAs, Diaz hit a robust .331/.366/.440 with 15 extra-base hits (0 HR though) and 20 steals (9 CS), good for a 114 wRC+. He did that while striking out 18.6% of the time against 4.5% walks. Diaz hit better at home (.886 OPS) vs. the road (.723) and his average was buoyed somewhat by a .414 BABIP, so there’s some area for concern, but his production at that age was encouraging.
The only video of Diaz I can find seems to have been uploaded by Diaz himself and shows a successful at-bat in the DSL in 2017:
FanGraphs ranked Diaz 19th in the system before 2020 with a 40 FV grade:
Diaz is the first Cuban amateur ever signed by Colorado. He’s an athletic, instinctive middle infield prospect with modest physical projection and promising bat to ball skills. For now those skills manifest as modest, all-fields line drive contact, and Diaz is likely a hit-only offensive player in the long run. He’s seen action all over the infield but we have him projected to second base, where he has a fair chance to profile because of the bat. It’s more likely he ends up in a utility role.
Jeffrey Paternostro of Baseball Prospectus ranked Diaz 20th in the org pre-2020:
He has a slim frame and should fill out some, but he’s not a projection monster. He’s likely to remain a bit undersized and be a slash and burn guy at the plate, although the wrists are strong and keep the bat from getting knocked out of his hands at present. He’s been splitting his time between second and short, although the arm is a better fit for the keystone. He’s a smooth, rangy fielder, who should hold his plus speed as he ages. The lack of physicality limits the upside here, and there’s a risk that better velocity beats him as he moves up the organizational ladder, but there’s a potential speedy bench infielder here at maturity.
Meanwhile, MLB Pipeline puts Diaz 23rd in the system:
Diaz isn’t the type of player who’ll wow scouts in batting practice, but who grows on you the more you see him in games. He’s very aggressive at the plate with an innate ability to make contact and doesn’t strike out much. He’s drawn walks in the past, but not as much in the Pioneer League. He’s still growing and he’s had some strength gains, so he might develop some power in the future, though it’s likely to be more of the gap-to-gap doubles variety. A plus runner, he’s already shown he’s an efficient basestealer and he plays the game with passion and energy at all times.
With an above-average arm, Diaz can play some shortstop, but profiles better at second base if he’s going to settle into one spot long-term. He might mix in some third as the Rockies make a habit of moving their infielders around during development.
That evaluation is highlighted by a 65 speed grade along with 50/55s for hit, field, and arm against a 35 power grade. Diaz is a few years away from contributing to the Rockies, but he’s already one of my favorite prospects thanks to his plus speed/good contact profile — if nothing else, he’s a fun player to watch and different than the typical major league profile.
The big knock I see on Diaz is a lack of power and of power potential, which could limit his ceiling to that of a utility player. Even so, he’s one heck of an exciting prospect who I’ll be watching closely in his belated full season debut, presumably in Low-A next year. I ranked Diaz 18th on my personal list with a 40 FV grade, but a strong full season performance could jump him up near the top 10 by mid-season. That will also encourage 40-man roster placement when the time comes after the season.