The St. Louis Cardinals have been very apprehensive about getting involved in the Cuban market. However, one of their top prospects is the only player the team has imported from Cuba.
I am on the fence about the St. Louis Cardinals involvement in the Cuban market. On one hand we see players like Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes, who have been very successful, you also have guys like Yasiel Puig who has been inconsistent and known as a bit of a cancer in the locker room.
I am very intrigued about the possibilities of Aledmys Diaz with the St. Louis Cardinals and have liked him since the signing. He brings some versatility and power at the shortstop position, with an ability to play second and third as well. While Diaz struggled to start his Cardinals’ career, a great finish to 2015, combined with his proximity to the majors makes him a top 10 prospect for this team.
What’s there to like about the Cardinals’ Cuban phenom?
#9 Aledmys Diaz SS/2B
Scout Grade: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field 45*
Analysis: Diaz is one of my favorite prospects, as you may be able to tell from my coverage of the Fall League action. Diaz was brought in from Cuba two years ago before spring training, the thought at that time was that he would be in the big leagues by now.
However, Diaz struggled mightily in his first season on U.S. soil, he was often injured and struggled to adjust to playing after having a year off. This continued into this year, and ultimately led to him being designated for assignment to make room on the 40-Man roster on July 8.
After that point, Diaz turned the switch and had an OPS over .900 for the rest of the season. This led to him getting a promotion in August up to AAA Memphis and then being added to the Arizona Fall League. Diaz kept this up and performed well in the Fall League, slashing .315/.370/.616, with eight doubles and four homers in his 20 games and 82 plate appearances for Surprise.
My bold prediction is that Diaz breaks spring training with the club, and is the backup SS/2B/3B. Diaz projects decent power, good contact, but questionable defense at short. John Manuel of Baseball America believes that he will likely end up being either a super utility player or a starting second baseman.
Despite this, I really like Diaz and am hoping he gets a chance to prove himself at the major league level this year. His performance definitely is warranting this.
Roster Prediction: AAA Memphis/MLB
Unfortunately for Diaz it may take a bit more of a showing and a new position to make the team out of spring training with the acquisition of Jedd Gyorko. However, what this does for Diaz is light a fire under him to perform at a level where the club is forced to promote him, and find a place for his bat.
If you have missed any of our “Top Prospects” series you can check them out here.
*Scout Grade via Viva El Birdos