Dodgers Prospect Watch: Yusniel Diaz Is Rising Quickly

(Mandatory Credit: Ben Sandstrom/

Unlike several of his predecessors, Dodgers‘ boss Andrew Friedman is developing a reputation for giving his younger players opportunities to show their value on the highest stages. This spring, for example, the Los Angeles management crew invited a whopping 22 players who were not on the 40-man to take part in major league workouts at Camelback Ranch, elevating the number of participants on the big league side of camp to well over 60 players.

One of those youngsters who is beginning to stand out is outfielder Yusniel Diaz. He’s already hit his first-career Cactus League home run, but perhaps more importantly, he’s been showing off the multiple tools he possesses. He’s currently ranked among the Top 10 prospects in the Dodgers’ system by several outlets, and was originally signed by Los Angeles as a 19-year-old free agent out of Cuba late in 2015. Last year, after dealing with an early injury bug, he went on to hit .292/.354/..433 with 11 long balls and 52 RBI in 114 combined games for High-A Rancho and Double-A Tulsa. He has the quickness to handle center field with ease, but his pure athleticism gives him the capability of succeeding at all three outfield spots. Additionally, both his arm strength and his speed on the basepaths grade way above average.

The right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing 21-year-old has convincingly proven his worth in terms of four of the key tools; however, he may be gradually building up his power game thanks to a new approach at the dish. This according to MLB Pipeline:

“Diaz shows the potential for solid tools across the board with the exception of his power, and he has begun to show more pop after toning down his setup and incorporating his lower half more in his right-handed swing. He makes consistent contact, uses the whole field and shows decent patience at the plate. While he won’t be a huge home run threat, he has enough bat speed and strength to provide 12-15 per season.”

Last November, Diaz, along with corner utility man Matt Beaty, was selected to represent the Dodgers at the Fall Stars Game, which is the annual mid-season All-Star showcase featuring the brightest prospects of the Arizona Fall League. During 2017 AFL play, the native of La Habana hit an impressive .303/.356/.409 in 66 AB over 17 games. Although he played mostly center field, many scouts see him as a natural right fielder, a spot for which he certainly has both the arm and range to excel.

And while it seems like he’s been around forever, the 2018 season will be just his fourth in the Dodgers’ system. Anybody else of his caliber in a different organization would certainly be showcased among the Triple-A starting outfielders, yet because of the impressive depth of the Los Angeles farm, especially in the outfield, Diaz is likely set to begin the year at Tulsa.

Nevertheless, if Diaz continues to shine on the minor league stage, it really doesn’t matter who is in his way, as a stop at the big league level may not be far off.


25 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: Yusniel Diaz Is Rising Quickly

  1. Welcome to the Dodger outfield of the future: Diaz, Peters, Verdugo. The nice thing is each of them can play all 3 positions. Of course, CT3 and Toles might have something to say about that. I’m assuming that after his arbitration year in 2019 Mr. Puig will be a former Dodger. I could be very wrong, but I would be surprised if Andrew re-signs him after 2019. Too many other possibilities at lower prices, or Harper at a ridiculously high price.

    1. Ever since the Dodgers appeared to be under the 2018 luxury tax threshold, we heard a lot about Bryce Harper sice the Dodgers will almost be in a position to spend freely. However, I think the strategy here by Friedman was to free up the money to give Kersh a new deal. I bet Harper is the farthest thing from his mind—he tends to avoid deals of that nature, unless, of course, it’s Kershaw.

      1. I would tend to agree that the Dodgers are not the most likely landing spot for Harper, but you never know. With the depth of the farm system and the relative youth of most of the better players, they’ll be in good shape to bundle some prospects for whatever they think they need. Wrap up a nice package (as per Keith’s comment below) and send it to a non-contender for a high-end starter or position player, whatever they think their biggest need is. As Keith mentions, they’ll have to start moving some of their prospects because there is starting to be a logjam and guys are being held back, playing at lower levels than they might deserve.

  2. Taylor is probably at second next year, Toles in center, that leaves an open spot in left next season, and if you’re right Jeff, an open spot in right the following year. I love your Harper idea, so one or two of them make it eventually, but I think Toles is going to be in the outfield for a while. I think somebody is going to be trade bait at the dead line this year, somehow the FO has to create some room for some of these guys to move up a level. It seems like some of the prospects are going to be playing a level lower than they should be, because there is no room for them to move up.

  3. Dennis, thanks for these prospect articles, I feel like I’m better informed than the casual fan, because of all the stuff you guys write about our minor leaguers.

  4. Nice start to Buehler’s Spring, 2 innings 5 k’s one base runner. A couple of those 12 to 6 curve balls were pretty good.

    1. It was a beautiful performance for sure, although to be fair, it wasn’t against All Star caliber hitters. On the day we drafted him and I saw a video of his motion and size, I immediately thought of Lincecum. I now see that Roberts has made a few comments comparing him to Lincecum as well. It would have been interesting if he had signed with us and become a mentor to Buehler.

  5. How has Baez looked so far this spring? first time I’ve seen him pitch so far. Wasn’t very impressive.

    1. I saw one of his other outings Keith but I can’t remember what he looked like. He was certainly awful last night. If I were the Dodgers I would immediately tell him that he can’t throw more than 2 fastballs to any batter. Try to force him to perfect one or two of his other pitches. I know he’s close with Kenley and of course Kenley throws basically one pitch most of the time. Problem is, Pedro is no Kenley. He needs a second pitch that he can throw along with his fastball or he’ll be out of the league in a couple of years.

      1. The problem with his four-seam is that it doesn’t have any movement at all. That’s how good hitters have become over the past five years. Doesn’t matter if somebody throws 100; if it’s straight, it’ll get crushed.

      2. Let’s see now. Where wouldn’t you want to have movement on your throws. I’ve got it! Lets convert him into a third baseman. Actually I really feel sorry for the guy. He seems like a good soul. Doesn’t ever cause anyone any problems (except when he’s on the mound). I’m compiling a “this guy might benefit from a change of scenery” list. So far the first two on that list are Joc and Pedro.

      3. I think he’s probably a little too hefty now to move back to third. And I’m willing to bet he was offered up in a trade package or two over the winter.

      4. One or two more performances like last night’s and we’ll have to include Bellinger as an inducement to take him.

      5. First they’d have to find a team with an extra 30 mil lying around. I guess the White Sox might qualify. Start reviewing their AA roster Dennis.

      6. It’s Hill’s 38th today. Maybe Pedro just isn’t old enough yet. We need to give him another 8 years.

  6. Dennis, you may be right about Andrew and a big contract for Harper, but as far as kersh goes, we are already paying him over 30 mil,on average, so he is only going to cost the team around 5-7 million more than we are already paying him. That should leave the team enough money to afford any free agent that can help the team.

  7. Your bull pen list has Baez on it as one of the eight, do you still feel that way, or could you see him going down. Does he have any options left?

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