Miguel Diaz hasn’t been very good this year.
But that’s okay. He didn’t come to the San Diego Padres with the #1 overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft (via Minnesota) because he was considered an MLB-ready talent. The 22 year old was pitching for low-A Wisconsin last season, his first year at a full season level. It was that inexperience that lead to David Stearns leaving Diaz unprotected during a rather puzzling series roster moves prior to the Rule 5 protection deadline in November.
Diaz was effective with the Timber Rattlers (3.71 ERA/3.14 DRA, 91 K, 29 BB in 94.2 innings) last season, but he’s had a bit of a rough indoctrination four levels higher in the major leagues. Through his first 18.1 MLB innings, he’s coughed up an 8.35 ERA/7.74 DRA. He’s authored an uninspiring 11:9 K/BB ratio and has served up long balls as a Feliz-ian rate, already five on the season.
The Brewers just finished up a series in San Diego, one in which Diaz received opportunity to show why the Padres coveted him in spite of his relative inexperience and current MLB struggles. He took the ball to finish out the final 3.0 innings during Tuesday’s evening game, which Milwaukee won by a score of 6-2. Diaz held the Brewers’ vaunted offense scoreless, allowing just two hits and one walk during his three frames, and he struck out Keon Broxton twice.
Diaz had his full arsenal on display during the 43 pitch outing, working through the Brewers’ lineup with a fastball, changeup, and sweeping curveball. The fastball touched 99 MPH during an at-bat with Jesus Aguilar:
And he painted the corner perfectly with this 82 MPH curve to ‘K’ Keon:
Finally, check out the movement on this 88 MPH changeup to Jonathan Villar:
It’s easy to see why Grant Jones gave Diaz a 60 OFP and future grades of 70 fastball, 60 curve, and 55 changeup when he scouted Miguel last summer. Diaz should continue to refine his command and control as he continues to gain professional experience, which he ought to get plenty of this season with San Diego. He’s made the 5th-most appearances on the team and should continue to get opportunities, even though it’s possible that he’ll continue to scuffle against big league hitters. The Padres may legitimately be tanking and have everything to gain (including full contractual control) by keeping Diaz around throughout the season and exposing him to big league coaching, no matter his performance.
Miguel Diaz remains a work in progress, but the tools are clearly there for him to eventually succeed at the big league level. He showed the Brewers just how effective he can be when he’s able to consistently throw strikes, and there will be more and more games like that for Diaz as he continues his development. The upside of a mid-rotation pitcher is very plainly there. David Stearns has done a terrific job overall during his time as general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers and the fact that his club is currently in first place certainly helps soften the blow, but the failure to keep Miguel Diaz in the organization may very well become a move that he eventually comes to regret.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus