30. Eddy Diaz (54 points, 8 ballots)
Eddy Diaz is most notable as Colorado’s first Cuban amateur free agent signing, inking a contract for $750K in 2017 as a 17-year-old. From there, “Fast Eddy” stole our hearts (and 84 bases) with two strong years in the Dominican Summer League and carried that strong play stateside in Grand Junction in 2019. In 2021 though, the era of good feelings for the 22-year-old second baseman hit a rough patch.
The Rockies challenged Diaz with an aggressive assignment to High-A Spokane to begin the year, but he struggled mightily with a .192/.284/.231 line (49 wRC+) in 89 PAs (and 11 SB in 16 attempts, it must be said) against pitching that was on average 1.8 years older than him. After getting sent down to Low-A Fresno in early June (where he was a league average age), Diaz righted the ship a bit.
Diaz saw his OPS increase by month throughout the season, from .515 in May with Spokane to a .639 June, .654 July, and a strong .870 in August before finishing down a bit at .795 in September. In all, Diaz posted a batting line of .295/.371/.362 in 376 Fresno plate appearances. He swiped 48 bags in 62 attempts (77% success rate) — and if you add in his Spokane stats, he went 59 for 78 (76%) in 2021.
Though Diaz’s batting average flirted with .300, he had only 17 extra base hits (including his first professional homer), which is why his wRC+ in Fresno was only 102. Diaz did manage to limit his strikeouts to 15% in Low-A with 7% walks after much worse totals in his High-A debut (34% K, 9% BB).
Defensively, Diaz played 79 games at second base, where he committed nine errors, and 16 at shortstop (five errors). Much of the time, he was the double play partner of fellow PuRP Ezequiel Tovar, whose defense grades out quite a bit higher.
Here’s some video of Diaz from some game action in July 2021 courtesy of Prospects Live:
Diaz was rated as a prospect of note in the “Bench Types” section by Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs in their January system evaluation:
Diaz is built like one of the Bob-ombs in Super Mario, a 70 runner who has swiped about 50 bags in each of the two complete minor league seasons he’s played in. He deserves a look in center field just to see if he can do it; otherwise, he doesn’t really have the versatility to play a consistent bench role.
Diaz slots in at 30 in the MLB.com system rank from mid-season. The evaluation is highlighted by a 65 speed grade along with 50/55s for hit, field, and arm against a 35 power grade:
The right-handed hitting infielder is a gamer who plays hard and at a high speed at all times. Outside of his speed, his tools don’t jump off the page, but he’s the kind of player who helps a team win games. He has a knack for contact and while he has a very aggressive approach, he doesn’t strike out much, though his K rate did go up a bit while his walk rate dropped with his move to the United States in 2019. He has added some strength, but will need more to impact the ball consistently, with a ceiling likely as a gap-to-gap doubles hitter rather than one who clears fences often.
If Diaz is going to be a big league regular at one position, it’s likely going to be at second base, though he can handle shortstop as well. He likely profiles best as a super-utility guy who finds ways to help his team win from a number of positions.
Diaz is one of my favorite prospects because his plus speed/good contact profile lends itself to balls in play and havoc on the base paths. As an impact prospect though, Diaz’s lack of power limits his ceiling to an up the middle utility player. The Rockies didn’t protect Diaz from the Rule 5 draft, which isn’t surprising since I think he’s a couple years away from being ready, but it’s a remote possibility someone takes a flyer on a really fun player. Diaz missed my personal top 30 but clearly belongs somewhere in this range as a 35+ FV player.