Wednesday, August 15, 2012

19. Edwin Diaz, RHP

19. Edwin Diaz, RHP

With my 19th pick, I selected Edwin Diaz at number 190 overall. He is a right handed pitcher who was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 3rd round, number 98 overall, in the 2012 draft.




In 1990, Jose Melendez made his Major League debut for the Seattle Mariners. His time in the minors was short, and not very memorable. All together, he compiled 220 innings pitched, only 16 wins, but a respectable ERA of 3.47 in 5 years with the Mariners, San Diego Padres, and Boston Red Sox. What is clear now is that baseball runs in his family. This year, his cousin Edwin Diaz was selected in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. Diaz is not a household name, and at this point, he shouldn't be. This is a kid who is 18 years old, and only started pitching when he was 15 years old. Still, his stuff impressed enough scouts that the Mariners chose him with a top 100 draft pick. Diaz played his high school ball at the Caguas Military Academy in Puerto Rico.
Like most high school pitchers who are drafted, he is very raw. Unlike most high school pitchers, he picked up the game immediately, and elevated his stock to the point where he was even worthy of being drafted in the top 100 picks. Very unusual to see someone with only 3 years of baseball experience in their entire life being drafted this high.

The reason the Mariners took this risk with such a high draft pick lies in the stuff. Diaz is 6'3", 170 lbs. and he already throws a fastball in the 92-95 MPH range, and has topped out at 97 MPH. As he fills out, he could add some more speed to that pitch. When it's on, his curveball is very sharp. However, as mentioned, he is very raw, and with most raw pitchers, mechanics are an issue. He's still figuring everything out, but right now, he has poor command of his pitches. Many scouts believe he will ultimately be a power arm out of the bullpen, but this all hinges on the development of his changeup, which is naturally lagging behind.
If the scouts are right about his role, the Mariners hope Diaz can turn into half the player that he idolizes: Mariano Rivera. Mechanics are difficult to teach. However, unlike stuff, they can be taught, and they can be improved. He has the stuff, an explosive fastball that seemingly projects to get better, and a curveball that has shown good flashes so far.

So far in 2012, since he signed with the Mariners, he has appeared in 8 games and 18 innings. As expected, his electric stuff has generated some swings and misses, as he has punched out 20 through his 18 innings. As expected, however, his command and control have been problematic. He has walked a bad number, 16, so far in his professional career, and this is in the rookie level league, where batters generally have poor plate discipline. In fact, in one appearance, he walked 4 batters in only 3.1 innings of work. Clearly, he has a steep road to the majors, but the positives are there, which is encouraging.

For a pitcher this young, it's difficult to make a good comparison. Realistically, the Mariners could be looking at their version of Carlos Marmol. A hard throwing righty with a sharp breaking pitch. A guy who can miss bats, but often misses the plate, and as a result, will rack up plenty of strikeouts and walks. While a comparison to Marmol may not seem favorable, it has to be noted that in 2010, Marmol pitched 77.2 innings with a 2.55 ERA and an incredible 138 strikeouts, leading to a Major League leading 16 K/9. That would be pretty good for a guy who started pitching only 3 years ago. At this point, because of his inexperience, I would place his risk at very high. He has great stuff, but his control and command ultimately could prevent him from climbing. However, there is definitely some potential here.



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