Thursday the Astros made it official and added Yainer Diaz to the active 28-man roster with Hunter Brown. We showed several likely DFA candidates in our roster article here and Goodrum and Solomon were DFAed to make space for the two prospects on the 40-man roster. Yainer Diaz, 23, is the third rated prospect in the Astros system. He was acquired with Phil Maton in the Myles Straw trade and he has performed at every level as he has gone through the minors. Prospect Ratings Fangraphs- #3 Astros Baseball America- #2 Astros MLB Pipeline- #3 Astros Yainer Diaz has been one of the fastest rising Astros prospects this year. Specifically Diaz's prospect profile from each is Fangraphs Hitting: 40 | Game Power: 40 | Raw Power: 60 | Speed: 20 | Fielding: 45 | Overall: 45 Baseball America Hitting: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Fielding: 45 | Arm: 55 | Overall: 50 MLB Pipeline Hitting: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 35 | Fielding: 50 | Arm: 60 | Overall: 50 Diaz has surpassed Lee as the top catching prospect in the Astros system. One area that really surprised me is how much these prospect scouts like Diaz's defense and his arm. Don't buy in to an expectation that Diaz will be terrible defensively. How good will he be? First, let's talk about how Diaz has been employed defensively especially in 2022. Here is the game started table.
Diaz has played more and more 1B this year than he has in the past. This was due to sharing playing time with Korey Lee at catcher. Let's assume to contextualize an answer to how good Diaz will be we compare to both catchers AND first basemen. To answer the question, I averaged what the projection systems are calculating for Diaz in 2022 and compared that to: - The current Astros catcher, first base, and combination of catcher and first base- these numbers would be better forward than the whole season numbers are due to the additions of Vazquez and Mancini but at least this compares Diaz to what we have had at the two positions to this point - MLB average catcher - MLB average first base - MLB average catcher and first base combined - Christian Vazquez
Don't get lost in the numbers. Use our heat map standard rules (red is good, blue isn't). Diaz projects to
not draw as many walks as any of the other groups
strike out less than any of the groups except Astros 1B with Yuli who we know does not strike out much
match almost exactly the average MLB C and 1B on OPS and wOBA. Pause on this. This is saying that Yainer Diaz will hit like the average of all Catchers and First Basemen in the MLB in the FIRST month of his career
be BETTER than the average MLB catcher significantly
be better than than what the Astros have had at both C and 1B in 2022 so far by a LOT
be about ten percent worse this month than Christian Vazquez who has been a near All-Star level catcher
So yeah read those bullet points again and if you don't get excited for what Yainer Diaz can do, I can't help you. Needless to say this is a REALLY GOOD catcher/ first baseman. Why now? The Astros actually got a little lucky with Yainer Diaz already in that the team DID NOT protect him from the 2021 Rule 5 draft. That is because the 2021 Rule 5 draft got cancelled in the CBA negotiations. If it happened, the team would have VERY likely lost him and we would not be seeing Diaz on the Astros. Diaz can help this team. Let's talk about how. How will the Astros use Yainer Diaz this year? Will he be on the postseason roster? First, as stated I think Diaz can help this team. Dusty Baker is slow to accept how players he does not know can be used or should be used. I would like to hear how Dusty plans to use Diaz before I dream too big. I expect Diaz will be used mainly as a pinch hitter in September. I do think Dusty is going to be more open to playing Diaz at first than he has Mancini. Mancini in 23 games played in the last month has only played first base THREE times and he hasn't since 8/14. Perhaps Yainer Diaz will get more starts at first to give Yuli some rest. From a catching stand point I suspect Diaz is more likely to be available as an emergency catcher. If in a game the Astros want to pinch hit for Maldy, they can now do so without worrying about what happens if Vazquez got hurt. I think this SHOULD mean more PH opportunities for Maldy earlier in games, Not sure if that will happen. I suspect there will be less than a handful of catching starts for Diaz. Vazquez REALLY needs time with many of the pitchers on this staff although Diaz would know Hunter Brown better than Maldy and Vazquez. The same could be said for Brandon Bielak and Seth Martinez. It is possible Diaz also gets a start in LF as well, but I see that as less likely than 1B or C. The other factor for Yainer Diaz's playing time is also Aledmys Diaz's injury recovery. If Aledmys is not going to be available the rest of the year expect Yainer to get more opportunities in LF and 1B. Unless Yainer Diaz fails as a hitter in his September opportunities I DO expect him to be on post season roster due to the flexibility he provides defensively. An average bat that can catch, play first, and play in the corner outfields is VERY valuable to a team. Welcome to the Astros Yainer Diaz! Don't worry about Astros Twitter. I will have your back. Media members including bloggers and podcasters- BEFORE you share this content you must get permission at firstname.lastname@example.org. You must also encourage folks to subscribe to LarryTheGM.com when you do. Subscribers, PLEASE leave your comments here or in the chat. If you liked this article or any of the others here, you really should subscribe to LarryTheGM.com (Below the header and above the articles). You will get notified of new content and you can use the chat feature.