The Braves made an interesting draft selection in the 5th round last June when they selected University of Miami left-hander Chris Diaz, who was instantly challenged by pitching in the South Atlantic League for Rome.
Diaz did well, pitching in nine games (10 starts) with a 2.97 ERA. He allowed 21 hits in 33.1 innings, with 21 walks and 36 strikeouts. The walks were too high, but it was good to see the strikeout numbers from an advanced college pitcher.
Diaz will turn 22 on May 24, 2015. He went to Gulliver Prep High School in Miami before joining his hometown team for college. He’s 6-0, 195 and Diaz was not drafted out of high school.
This season in 16 starts with the Hurricanes Diaz was 9-1 with a 2.41 ERA. He had 41 walks and 86 strikeouts in 101 innings. He was the ACC co-pitcher of the year for 2013, as Miami won every one of his regular season starts.
Diaz has a sinking fastball that is between 90-92 mph. He also has a changeup and slider, with the changeup reportedly being his best pitch. You wonder if the Braves will give him a curveball to further his development.
With his success in Rome, you could see the Braves pushing Diaz to Carolina in the Carolina League. When Sean Gilmartin was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft, he played at Rome and then was pushed to Double-A Mississippi to start his first full season in pro ball. The Braves did the same thing with Mike Minor after he came out of Vanderbilt in the first round of the 2009 draft. He made only four starts in Rome and then started in AA the next season.
Diaz is interesting in that he’s a soft-tossing lefty but he knows how to win. The Carolina League is known as a college league, with a lot of college players making the jump there. So if he gets off to a fast start in Carolina, he could see most of the 2015 season in Double-A for Mississippi.
College starters can come quickly. Could Diaz be yet another arm that could project to be ready in 2017? Well, let’s see how he does in his first full action of pro ball, but Diaz is an intriguing arm to watch as the Braves try to build up the farm system for the future.
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Prospect Report: Chris Diaz
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