keyboard_arrow_uptop
IN THIS ISSUE

American League

National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Acquired INF-R Josh Rutledge from the Rockies in exchange for RHP Jairo Diaz. [12/11]

A not-so-classic example of teams swapping strength for strength. The Angels had plenty of young bullpen depth to deal from, and the Rockies enough middle-infield depth to suffice.

Rutledge, who turns 26 in April, has failed to replicate the power production that made him so intriguing in his rookie season. Unfortunately, he has succeeded in continuing to show substandard defensive abilities and an overly aggressive approach at the plate. Jerry Dipoto's hope here is, seemingly, that Rutledge will hit enough line drives to sustain a decent average. If Rutledge can do that, then what power he does offer should be enough to offset his lacking on-base chops. Of course that would still represent a downgrade from Howie Kendrick, and in a vacuum you'd probably take Diaz, but given the costs involved, it might be the most efficient route to providing Grant Green with some springtime competition. —R.J. Anderson

COLORADO ROCKIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Acquired RHP Jairo Diaz from the Angels in exchange for INF-R Josh Rutledge. [12/11]

Diaz appeared in a handful of games last season with the Angels, and along the way verified what we already knew: that he could pitch in high-leverage situations soon. His arm strength is ridiculous, with his heater averaging 98 mph during his big-league stint. The impressive velocity holds true for his turbo upper-80s slider, too, which grades as a well above-average offering. Diaz has effort in his mechanics, obviously, but he threw enough strikes across multiple levels in '14 to envision him taking an important role in the Colorado bullpen sometime next season. —R.J. Anderson

Coming into the 2014 season, Diaz had yet to keep his ERA under 5.00 in any stateside season, mostly as a starting pitcher, but in the second year of his second transition (he signed as a catcher way back in 2007 before being converted to the mound), he raced through a weak Angels system to get a cup of coffee in September. Diaz stands at six feet tall with a thick trunk, looking every bit the part of a backstop-turned-hurler. He found additional comfort working from the stretch in 2014, and a more efficient arm path has further helped in efforts to hit a consistent release and better fill up the strike zone. It’s a smoother motion than in past seasons, but Diaz retains a fair bit of recoil from his high 3/4 delivery. While not overly imposing in stature, Diaz’s raw stuff alone is enough to blanket bats with late-inning discomfort.

The bread and butter of his arsenal is an elite fastball that can hit triple-digits, and comes with enough arm-side run down in the zone to keep hitters from getting too square. As you'd expect, with max velocity comes max effort, and as a result the in-zone command can waiver from appearance to appearance. He pairs the hard cheese with a hard slider that can scrape 90 MPH and projects as plus, though he can get into stretches where he has trouble staying on top of it, stripping the offering of vertical action, softening the bite, and often relegating it to a contact-friendly trajectory. The changeup exists in an upper-80s split-variation, but he threw it exactly zero times in 87 pitches at the major league level, which is a pretty good demonstration of both its fringy nature and his confidence in it.

Though a shift to Coors is never a welcome occurrence for a pitcher, Diaz was able to maintain a ground ball rate in the minors that consistently hugged 50 percent—an attribute that will certainly benefit him in his altitude transition. There is high-leverage potential here, and he should enter the spring with an opportunity to break camp as a member of the Rockies’ bullpen. If the command of both the fastball and slider progress, he could find himself closing out games in Colorado as soon as next season. —Bret Sayre

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe