Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Yennsy Diaz 2017 season
The 20-yr-old right-handed pitcher from Azua, Dominican Republic had a nice season. While he progressed in his development, Yennsy Diaz continues to struggle in certain areas of his game.
Yennsy, pronounced Jennsy, possesses a quick arm and a smooth delivery which allows him to generate a high 90’s fastball with impressive downward movement. His fastball touched 97 mph a number of times in 2017 but comfortably sits in the low to mid 90’s range. Diaz saw some improvement with his secondary pitches but not enough to get batters to swing and miss.
MLB Pipeline had the 6-foot-1, 160 lbs starter ranked as Toronto’s 25th best prospect heading into the 2017 season. They now have him ranked at 27th which might be a little hard on the kid.
After struggling with the Bluefield Blue Jays in 2016, Baseball America had Yannsy Diaz graduating to short-season Vancouver Canadians in 2017. Well, Diaz must have impressed the Blue Jays brass in Extended Spring training because he skipped over Vancouver. Diaz’ season started June 10th with two shutout innings.
Diaz continued to strike out around a batter per inning with 9.58 K/9, up from 7.71 K/9 in 2016. He struck out 82 batters in 77.0 IP. He struck out 8 plus batters 4 times.
The number of innings pitched in 2017 can be viewed as a positive accomplishment, upping his IP from 56.0. A jump of 20 IP is a decent jump for a 20-yr-old pitcher and probably why his season didn’t start until June.
June was easily Diaz’ best statistical month. He posted a record of 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in 4 starts (16.2 IP). He walked 8 and struck out 26, holding opponents to a .169 BA and sporting a 1.08 WHIP.
Pitch counts are always an issue with young pitchers, Diaz was no different in 2017. Diaz topped out at 101 pitches and consistently 5 plus innings with 80+ pitches.
Yennsy Diaz handled right-handed batters very well with a .216 batting average.
His best game was on July 20th against the Quad Cities River Bandits. Diaz pitched 6 scoreless innings allowing 5 hits while walking 4 and striking out 5. He threw 54 of his 85 pitches for strikes and collected 5 groundballs. His game score was 63.
While his strikeout rate climbed in his first year in Lansing, so did his BB/9. Diaz walked 4 batters 4 times and finished with a 4.79 BB/9. He allowed 71 hits and 41 BB to finish with an ugly 1.45 WHIP and opponents batting average of .246.
Despite possessing a nice sinking fastball, Diaz continued to generate a lot of flyballs. After posting a 43.7 GB% with Bluefield in 2016, Yennsy saw his GB% fall to 35.8 with the Lugnuts. With a 17.2 LD% (hard contact) and 47.1 FB%, Diaz allowed 1.17 HR/9.
The righty-pitcher struggled against LHB, allowing them to bat a healthy .270 off him.
Diaz didn’t do great in July or August but I felt his August was the least encouraging. He posted a record of 1-0 with a 5.76 ERA in 6 starts. He allowed 5 home runs and 31 hits while allowing opponents to bat .272 off him in 29.2 IP. Yennsy Diaz struck out 33 while issuing 14 walks.
While Yennsy Diaz didn’t light the Midwest League on fire, he wasn’t terrible. I expect to see Diaz return to Lansing, this time in April.
Diaz should expect to see his inning total rise in the neighborhood of 30-50IP; therefore, Yennsy could throw between 110 and 130 IP in 2018. My guess is 110.
MLB Pipeline has his ETA estimated at 2019. The only way I see Yennsy Diaz in a Blue Jays uniform in 2019 is a power reliever. Diaz could see himself moved to the bullpen if he continues to struggle against LHB and with walks. I don’t see this happening but if it does, it won’t be until he Double-A sometime.
Heck, Conner Greene is still a starter.
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