The centerpiece of the 5-for-1 July 2017 trade that sent Manny Machado to the Dodgers, Diaz was signed for a $15.5 million bonus out of Cuba two Novembers prior. The Dodgers actually laid out $31 million total to get him, incurring a 100% penalty tax in the process. Excelling at Double-A at the time, Diaz introduced himself to a national audience by hitting a pair of impressive home runs in the 2018 Futures Game, a few days before the Orioles acquired him for Machado. He's yet to match his initial production at Double-A (.314/.428/.477) in two separate stints at the level in the Orioles system, though hamstring and quad injuries cut into his 2019 campaign.
Diaz’s best tool is his pure hitting ability, but his calling card is a blend of tools -- they project as average or above across the board. The question remains whether he will hit for power; Diaz has hit exactly 11 home runs in each of the past three seasons. But he has an advanced feel for the strike zone, doesn’t punch out much and still walks at a decent clip, even if that declined during his second crack at Bowie. Still young and projectable, Diaz is seen as a potential No. 5- or 6-hole type who hits for both average and power.
Defensively, Diaz’s above-average arm makes him playable at all three outfield positions, though he’s probably best suited long term at one of the corners. He possesses average speed and that’s translated to just a 42 percent stolen base success rate as a professional. The Orioles hope he can clean that up and stay healthy, knowing Diaz can soon reach the Majors if things click.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
The Dodgers shelled out a total of $31 million to sign Diaz in November 2015, spending $15.5 million on the then-18-year-old's signing bonus and the other half to cover the team's incurred penalty tax. He reached Double-A for the first time two years later and then showed across-the-board improvement in his return to the level in 2018, earning a selection to the Futures Game, where he showcased his talents to a national audience by hitting a pair of impressive home runs. Just a few days later, the Orioles acquired Diaz along with four other prospects in a 5-for-1 deal for Manny Machado.
Diaz stands out most for his pure hitting ability, but each of his five tools has the potential to be average or better. Whether he will hit for power is perhaps the biggest question mark in his offensive profile, as Diaz has never hit more than 11 home runs in three professional seasons. He showed more pop in 2018 after toning down his setup and incorporating his lower half more, and with a more consistent launch angle, Diaz has the strength to produce at least average game power. He's tightened his approach at every level, showing more patience and a discerning eye en route to improved strikeout and walk rates.
Though he's an average runner, Diaz has been successful in just 44.4 percent of his stolen base attempts (28-of-63) as a pro and likely will lose a step with physical maturation. He's capable of playing center field in a pinch but is best-suited long term for right field. The Orioles were thrilled with how amenable Diaz was to making improvements upon joining the organization and then during instructional league. With further refinement, he could develop into a middle-of-the-order run producer who hits for both average and power.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
At age 18, Diaz established himself as the favorite to win 2014-15 Rookie of the Year honors in Cuba's top league before defecting that April. The Dodgers spent $31 million to sign him seven months later, $15.5 million for his bonus and an equal amount in penalty tax. He spent most of his first two pro years holding his own as one of the youngest regulars in the high Class A California League, then batted .333/.390/.491 in Double-A during the final month of the 2017 season. Returning to Double-A in 2018, Diaz made across-the-board improvements at the plate during the first half and then showcased his abilities to a national audience by hitting a pair of impressive home runs in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. His progress caught the attention of the Orioles, who acquired Diaz along with four other prospects in a 5-for-1 deal for Manny Machado at the All-Star break.
Diaz shows the potential for solid tools across the board with the exception of his power, although he has begun to show more pop after toning down his setup and incorporating his lower half more in his right-handed swing. He makes consistent barreled contact, driving the ball with authority to all fields, with enough bat speed and strength to provide 12-15 per season. Diaz could very well surpass those power projections, especially after he tightened his approach and drastically reduced his chase rate during his return to the Texas League.
Diaz has above-average speed but has yet to show much prowess as a basestealer. He spent most of his pro debut in center field, where he projected as an average defender. He's likely a better long-term fit in right field, where he played the majority of last year, and has the arm for the position.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
Diaz starred as an 18-year-old in Cuba's top league, emerging as the favorite to win rookie-of-the-year honors in 2014-15 before defecting in April. Los Angeles spent $31 million to sign him seven months later, $15.5 million on a bonus and a matching penalty for blowing past its international pool. Challenged with an assignment to high Class A in his pro debut, he acquitted himself well but missed six weeks with recurring issues with his throwing shoulder.
With his quick right-handed stroke and good hand-eye coordination, Diaz barrels balls easily. He focuses on hitting line drives and using the entire field, displaying decent patience at the plate. The Dodgers had him focus on incorporating his lower half more in his swing while he was sidelined, though he won't be a big power hitter and figures to max out at 12-15 homers per year.
Diaz doesn't need to be a slugger because the rest of his tools all grade as solid or better. He's a plus runner whose still figuring out how to use his speed on the basepaths after getting caught in eight of his 15 steal attempts during his debut. He has the range and arm strength to man all three outfield spots and he's capable of playing regularly in center field.
As an 18-year-old in Cuba's top league, the Serie Nacional, Diaz batted .348/.447/.440 in 2014-15 and was the favorite to win rookie-of-the-year honors before he defected last April. The Dodgers signed him seven months later for $15.5 million plus a matching amount as a penalty for exceeding their international allotment. That $31 million outlay was just Los Angeles' third-largest for a Cuban defector in 2015, behind $62.5 million for since-traded Hector Olivera and $32 million for Yadier Alvarez.
Diaz has the potential for four solid or better tools. He has uncanny hand-eye coordination and a quick right-handed swing that allow him to barrel balls with ease even though his legs aren't always in sync with the rest of his body. He employs a line-drive, gap-to-gap approach that doesn't yield much power, but he has a projectable frame and could deliver 15 homers per season if he tries to drive the ball more often.
Diaz should make an impact on the bases and in the outfield as well. He's a plus runner with good instincts and a solid arm. He easily profiles as a center fielder and is capable of playing all three outfield positions.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
Counting a big league contract for since-traded Hector Olivera, bonuses and tax penalties for blowing past their allotted pool, the Dodgers agreed to pay more than $150 million to sign international players in 2015. Their spending spree continued into November, when they landed Diaz for $15.5 million (plus a matching amount in tax penalties). That was just Los Angeles' third-biggest outlay of the year for a Cuban defector, behind $62.5 million for Olivera and $32 million ($16 million bonus plus matching penalty) for right-hander Yadier Alvarez.
Diaz hit .348/.448/.440 in 2014-15 as an 18-year-old in Cuba's top league, the Serie Nacional, and was the favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors before he defected in April before the award was given. His most impressive attribute may be his hand-eye coordination, which combined with his quick right-handed bat, allows him to barrel balls. He mainly focuses on lacing line drives from gap to gap but has the strength to provide some power if he opens up his approach.
A good athlete, Diaz has plus speed and solid arm strength. He should be able to stick in center field and is capable of playing all three outfield spots.