Breakout Candidate: Will Lewin Diaz Emerge As A Must Use Option In 2021?

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The Marlins made a surprising run in 2020, behind numerous breakout performances and several young players who were forced into action before expected. Lewin Diaz, who had been acquired from Minnesota at the ’19 Trade Deadline, had an opportunity to fall into the latter category. Unfortunately he flopped upon his arrival:

.154 (6-39), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 0 SB

Considered one of the better first base prospects in the game, was this simply a case of him being rushed to the Majors under unusual circumstances? Was it simply too small of a sample size to judge from? Chances are it’s a combination of the two, though at 23-years old (he just turned 24 after the season) the time for him to emerge is now.

Diaz had spent ’19 at Double-A, combining to hit .253 with 14 HR and 40 RBI over 241 AB. Clearly he showed significant power, adding 22 doubles and 1 triple, but the question is going to be how big of a price that power comes with. Listed at 6’4″ strikeouts are going to be a part of his game. While he posted a 19.1% strikeout rate at Double-A, his 12.1% SwStr% showed that more strikeouts were possible. That was clearly exposed in the Majors, as he posted a 29.3% strikeout rate, though he wasn’t too bad against most types of pitches (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 6.59%
  • Breaking – 19.23%
  • Offspeed – 7.41%

We obviously don’t want to draw too many conclusions off such a small sample size, though it’s something we are going to have to watch closely. If his strikeouts continue to be inflated, you are going to have to start to wonder if he’s going to make enough contact to consistently tap into his power.

That hasn’t been an issue to this point, as MLB.com described prior to 2020:

Left-handed power is Diaz’s carrying tool, and he has plenty of it thanks to an impressive combination of bat speed, strength and leverage in his 6-foot-4 frame. He looks to drive the ball in the air and can hit the ball out of any part of the ballpark. He shows some feel for hitting, making consistent contact to all fields, though he may need a more selective approach to hit for average against big league pitchers.

That said MLB.com did allude to the issue we saw in his MLB debut. It’ll be something to watch, though there’s a good catch the Marlins start Diaz at Triple-A assuming it’s a fairly normal season. Time will tell, but even if he gets the call there is going to need to be an adjustment period. Time will tell, but there’s a better bet that he succeeds in 2022 and beyond as opposed to in 2021.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com, Prospect 361

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