Double-A outfielder Yusniel Díaz is the top prospect the Orioles received from the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for shortstop Manny Machado July 18. Here are five things to know about the 21-year-old Cuban outfielder:
1. A big performance
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Díaz hit two home runs during the All-Star Futures Game July 15. He joined Alfonso Soriano as the only players to homer twice in a Futures Game. Díaz started the game in left field and finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
2. Has some power
Díaz posted a .477 slugging percentage during 59 games at Double-A Tulsa this season. He also slugged .491 during 31 games at Tulsa last season after being promoted from High-A Rancho Cucamonga. However, Díaz hasn’t just been a home run hitter. Many of his extra-base hits come from doubles, and he sprays line drives to all fields. A career .288 hitter in the minors, he’s batting .314 this season.
3. International success
Díaz was the favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors in the Cuban National Series, Cuba’s top baseball league, when he defected from the island in April 2015, according to MLB.com. Díaz batted .348 with a .887 OPS as an 18-year-old during the 2014-15 season. Díaz held a showcase for MLB teams in the Dominican Republic before signing a $15.5 million deal with the Dodgers in November 2015.
Rated by MLB.com as the third-best amateur player of the 2015 international signing period, Díaz was thought to possess solid tools across the board when he signed, per MLB.com:
“Diaz, who is sometimes referred to as Yusnier, showed athleticism along with some hitting and power potential in an open showcase for all Major League teams in early August in the Dominican Republic. He ran a 6.5-second 60-yard dash and also impressed scouts with his body projection. Evaluators also liked Diaz’s bat speed, and they believe he will improve on his overall hitting mechanics once he sees professional pitching on a daily basis. He has shown the ability to play center field.”
4. Multiple positions
Díaz has played all three outfield positions during his three seasons in the minor leagues, although he primarily plays center and right field. This season he’s played 29 games in center, 28 in right and two in left. MLB.com projects right field to be his best fit.
5. Organizational strength
Díaz joins the Orioles’ crop of young outfielders in the minor leagues. Three of the Orioles’ top 10 prospects, according to MLB.com, are outfielders: Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays and DJ Stewart. Mullins and Stewart play at Triple-A Norfolk, while Díaz has joined Hays at Double-A Bowie. Díaz became the Orioles’ No. 2 prospect upon being traded to Baltimore, according to MLB Pipeline.
Photo Credit: William Vaughan/Bowie Baysox