If you’re looking at baseball prospects website like this one, I expect that you are familiar with Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. And there’s a non-zero chance that a fair number of you are also familiar with Luis Alexander Basable (not to be confused with his twin who was traded last year for Brad Ziegler.)
However, if you’re like me, you may be unfamiliar with the 4th player the Red Sox traded for Chris Sale. But, Victor Diaz is anything but insignificant.
Victor Diaz was signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2014. He has spend the last two years in the Dominican and Sally Leagues as a relief pitcher. He had an above average strikeout rate in the South Atlantic and pitched to a 3.88 ERA (3.19 FIP).
To date, though, he has not shown up on any Red Sox prospect lists except for the deepest of deep lists.
Before I go any further, let’s lay out a couple of ground rules:
- TINSTAAPP: There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect
- TINSTAAPP absolute applies to unheralded 22 year-old pitching prospects
With those out of the way, there are definite reasons for the White Sox to love getting Diaz as the 4th piece.
Scouts and Analysts Like Him
Just last month, Nick Cafardo from the Boston Globe talked to a scout that called Diaz’s stuff “electric”. Alex Speier in a recent Baseball America chat noted that Victor had made an impression on the baseball community during 2016. There is reason to expect Diaz will shoot up the prospects lists regardless of which team he is on.
He has a Big Fastball
His fastball sits in the 96-98 mph range, but Diaz can push that triple digits when needed. SoxProspects thinks the pitch can be plus-plus if he can improve control and command.
He Has Secondary Pitches
SoxProspects only notes Diaz’s slider and calls the pitch a “work in progress”. Alex Speier is a bit more optimistic, calling both the slider and the splitter pretty good secondary weapons. I don’t know that we should read much into “pretty good,” but it’s enough to indicate that Diaz has the potential to have at least one pitch to back up his fastball.
The Relief Market is Crazy
Just look at the other Red Sox trade today: Tyler Thornburg for Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, and Josh Pennington. That’s a second division MLB starter and two intriguing prospects for 3 years of a RP. Mark Melancon just signed with the Giants for $62 million. And Aroldis Chapman is seeking much more than that.
High potential, relief-only pitching prospects are nothing to sneeze at anymore. And the White Sox are sure to give Diaz time to develop. Triple-digit arms aren’t that common.
If Diaz can improve his control and at least one secondary pitch, the White Sox have a future high-leverage pitching bargain on their hands.
Enjoy some video footage courtesy of soxprospects.com: