Dodger Prospect Jose Diaz

18th in a series as we count down among the top Dodger prospects.

Name- JOSE RAFAEL "JUMBO" DIAZ
Position- Relief Pitcher
Residence- LaRomana, D.R.
DOB-Feb. 27, 1984
Height- 6-4
Weight- 260
B/T- R-R
04 Club(s)- Columbus (low A); Vero Beach (high A)

For a good portion of this past season, Jumbo Diaz was one of the revelations of the Dodger system. Lumbering in from the bullpen with his Pillsbury Doughboy body, he would simply challenge the would-be hitters with a fast ball that rode plateward trailing white heat. He could bring it up to 99 mph, sat in the mid-90's on almost every pitch and would throw a slider for a change.

This "in you face" approach produced strong results. At Columbus, he notched 14 saves with a 2.12 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 34 innings. Moved up to Vero Beach at mid-season, it was more of the same, six saves in nine appearances, a 1.64 ERA with 15 K's in 11 innings. Next stop seemed to be the Dodger 40-man roster.

Instead, the arm ailments that had limited him to just seven games and 18 innings in 2003 at South Georgia and Ogden flared up bigtime. His elbow blew completely and his season ended abruptly. At first he resisted surgery but finally agreed so he'll be out most of '05 before he can stage a return. To what? Well, others have come back strongly, but some have never been the same If he can resemble his old self, he could be one of the prime closer candidates in all the minors. If, not, well, he'll be another "might-have-been."

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