The Seattle Mariners' top pitching prospect Edwin Diaz has officially been called up to join Seattle's bullpen in Texas today, making the rare jump from Double-A to the Major Leagues after just 10 games working out of the Generals' bullpen in relief. Our number 2 overall prospect in the system before the season began (which was before his move to the bullpen, obviously),
Those 10 games were definitely impressive, as the 22 year old right-hander worked 11 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out 16 of the 42 batters he faced and allowing opposing batters to hit just .077 while not allowing an earned run. Seattle's 3rd round pick in the 2012 Draft, he's struck out 409 batters in the 386 innings that he's thrown as a pro climbing through Seattle's system.
Jackson's Manager of Broadcasting and Media Relations, Brandon Liebhaber was incredibly impressed with what the 6-foot-3, 165 pounder showed in his new role with the team, telling me today, "Diaz took to the bullpen role really well right out of the gate, which I was impressed with for a 22-year-old. His stuff plays extremely well in relief, and he has sat in the mid-to-high 90s since making the switch." Liebhaber saw the difference between Diaz the starter and Diaz the reliever in his aggressiveness on the mound. "He can just come out and attack hitters now without worrying about working deep into games," he said. He ended by saying, "Dominant is the only adjective to adequately describe how he has pitched in relief. I would not at all be surprised if he made an immediate impact with Seattle."
Diaz takes Cody Martin's spot on the big league club, which is really the spot that Joel Peralta had in the pen. Peralta was DFA'd earlier this week after struggling in recent outings. The 40 year old veteran started the season as one of the better options in Seattle's pen, working in 12 of the club's first 27 games and posting a 2.25 ERA while allowing opposing batters just a .146/.186/.317 slash. But in his last 14 games with the club, the league hit .353/.404/.765 off of the right-hander, touching him up for an 8.74 ERA in the span of 11 1/3 innings.
Peralta also averaged just 89.8 mph on his fastball, one of the very lowest numbers in MLB this season among relievers. While that is basically where Peralta has pitched for most of his 615 games in his solid 12-year big league career, Diaz is clearly a different caliber of arm talent than he is. We'll see if the young native Puerto Rican can put together the type of career that Joel did, but his presence will certainly help the M's in terms of overall average bullpen fastball velocity -- they currently rank 28th in the majors at just 91.6 mph.
The explosive velocity will be the easiest trait to recognize with Diaz, but the organization values Diaz as a reliever who can get people out, period. As Andy McKay told me last month when this move to relief role was made, "We're planning on playing postseason baseball this year in Seattle, and it is important to have as many bullets as possible."
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