All That Diaz
Jordan Diaz (OAK): 3-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.
There aren’t many bright spots for A’s fans right now. The team looks destined for Las Vegas in the next few years, and the owner operates his team like the ultimate goal is to have as low of an attendance as possible. Despite the onslaught of negativity, the roster has a handful of promising young players that could be part of the next competitive core, and Jordan Diaz may be one of them.
In last night’s 10-5 loss to the Yankees, Diaz was a force to be reckoned with, finishing the day with a 3-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI line. Notably, all of his home runs came against offspeed pitches. The 22-year-old second baseman started his big day by smashing a Clarke Schmidt sweeper 388 feet down the left-field line. He then homered against an Albert Abreu slider in the seventh and capped things off with an epic at-bat one inning later. On the eighth pitch of the plate appearance, Diaz deposited a Greg Weissert sweeper 413 feet away into left-center field.
After sending three balls out of Yankee Stadium last night, Diaz is up to a .286/.286/.595 triple slash line through his first 42 plate appearances of the season. What jumps out immediately is his batting average and on-base percentage being identical – that’s because Diaz hasn’t walked a single time yet this year.
Diaz has never been a player that walked often, but he certainly should start earning some free passes soon. He had a 6.3% walk rate in limited Triple-A action this year and generally has a good eye at the plate. A lot of young players struggle to control the strike zone, but Diaz doesn’t. The highest strikeout rate of his young career is 16.7% over just 48 plate appearances in Triple-A this year, so while he’s currently punching out 28.6% of the time, it’s a safe bet that he’ll be able to bring that number back down somewhere in the teens.
Although Diaz has never been profiled as a can’t-miss prospect, he’s still worth a look in deeper fantasy leagues. He put up eye-popping numbers at both Double-A and Triple-A levels last year, hitting a combined .326/.366/.515 with 19 home runs and 83 RBI.
Diaz may not steal you a single base, but if he can find consistent playing time in Oakland – and he certainly should as the A’s desperately search for potential difference-makers – he should put up decent counting stats. He could realistically be a 10 HR, 45 RBI, 40 R guy, so while Diaz may not be a pickup that wins you your league, he could be a player that flies under the radar as a great option to fill out your roster.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Jorge Soler (MIA): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
The fantasy community was hyped beyond belief for Brandon Pfaadt to make his MLB debut last week, and apparently Soler was excited to see him too, because he took him deep twice yesterday. Soler’s home runs against Pfaadt were the two furthest-hit balls of the day across the league – 433 and 468 feet. Soler is now hitting .234/.310/.516 with a team-leading nine home runs.
Jurickson Profar (COL): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
Profar signed with the Rockies near the end of Spring Training, and like a lot of players, the potential of him playing half his games in Coors Field was pretty exciting. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen him flash much of that potential in the season’s first six weeks, but perhaps yesterday will be the start of better things. Profar left the yard twice in Pittsburgh last night, but his batting line still stands at just .220/.310/.382. His batted ball metrics look nearly identical to last year when he posted a 110 wRC+, so I think he’ll find a more consistent stroke at the dish, but you don’t necessarily need to cling to him on your roster until he does.
Francisco Álvarez (NYM): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
The Mets’ young catcher showcased some of his awesome offensive upside yesterday that made him one of the game’s top prospects. He got the better of Luke Weaver twice, homering once to left-center and once to right-center, flashing some of his great raw power. Álvarez displayed an impressive eye at the plate throughout his minor league career with a walk rate that never fell below 11.3%. In the early going this year, he hasn’t been able to replicate that success against big-league pitching, walking just 5.3% of the time. Pair that with his typical high strikeout rate (28.1%) and he has some work to do before joining baseball’s elite backstops.
Dansby Swanson (CHC): 3-5, 2 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Swanson did all he could to try to bring the Cubs a win against their arch-rival St. Lous Cardinals yesterday, but it wasn’t enough as the Redbirds won their second straight at Wrigley Field. The Cubs’ freshly-signed All-Star shortstop is quickly endearing himself to his new team. He’s slashing .285/.391/.409 and his 126 wRC+ would be a new career high over a full season.
Nick Castellanos (PHI): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Castellanos’ hot start to the year continued yesterday with three hard hits, all falling for extra bases in the Phillies’ 8-4 win over the Blue Jays. He’s now hitting .317 with five home runs, 24 RBI, and 28 runs. A few weeks ago Castellanos’ batted ball data did not support his strong performance, but I’m happy to report that’s no longer the case. He’s still slightly outpacing his expected stats – he has a .367 wOBA and a .347 xwOBA – but the gap is small enough that a big downturn doesn’t seem imminent. His barrel rate is back to 10.3%, just 0.2% below his career mark.
Justin Turner (BOS): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Don’t look now, but even at 38 years old Turner is performing just about as we’ve come to expect from him. He’s slashing .273/.360/.396 in the first year of a two-year contract he signed with the Red Sox this offseason. Understandably, he may have lost some power as he grows closer to 40 – he hasn’t had a slugging percentage below .400 since 2013 – but he’s still a good option in deeper fantasy formats and OBP leagues.
Paul DeJong (STL): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
DeJong has really struggled at the plate since 2019, leading to him being up and down quite often. He recently returned to the MLB club and looks to be the primary shortstop in St. Louis. He’s started four of the last five games there, and 11 of 16 since being activated from the IL on April 24th. The early returns are great for DeJong. He’s slashing .350/.409/.650 and he may have finally reined in the strikeout rate. It’s at 20.5% after hovering at least in the mid-20s during the last few years. He only has 44 plate appearances so we’re talking about small sample sizes, but he’s worth an add if you need shortstop or middle infield help.
Juan Soto (SD): 4-4, 2 2B, R, BB.
Soto has been playing very unlike himself since being traded to San Diego last year, but he may finally be turning things around. His 4-for-4 day yesterday was his first perfect day of the year, and he now has hits in 9 of his last 10 games. He’s slashing .244/.400/.433 which is good for a 135 wRC+. It tells you just how good Soto is that even when he’s producing runs at a rate 35% better than league average we get concerned that he’s in a huge slump.
Christopher Morel (CHC): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, SB.
Morel finally got the call-up to the big leagues Monday, and he made a big impression by collecting a combo meal in his first game of the year. Perhaps his strong season debut shouldn’t be surprising, because the Cubs’ utilityman was absolutely raking at Triple-A, slashing .330/.425/.730 with 11 home runs, 31 RBI, 31 runs, and four stolen bases. The biggest concern with Morel is playing time. The Cubs have a lot of players they’re trying to work into the lineup regularly, so keep an eye on how often he’s cracking the starting nine. In the meantime, he’s worth rostering nearly everywhere except the shallowest leagues. He has the ability to be a difference-maker, especially if he can get his strikeout rate down even just a little bit.
Wander Franco (TB): 2-5, HR, R, RBI, SB.
If the season ended today, Franco very well may take home the American League MVP award. In his third year at the big league level, Franco is absolutely delivering on the insane prospect hype that followed him throughout this minor league tenure. He’s slashing .310/.365/.556 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases while playing impeccable defense at shortstop.