Baltimore Orioles outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz is demanding a little extra attention this season.
The infield shift is pretty commonplace in baseball now. Every team employs it all levels of baseball, it’s just part of the game. However, Yusniel Diaz, considered the top prospect in the Baltimore Orioles farm system by most major publications, is now forcing a different kind of shift.
In Wednesday afternoon’s game in Richmond, Virginia against the Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants Double-A affiliate), Diaz was faced with an outfield of four players, the outfield shift.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted earlier this spring that the outfield shift occurred 65 times at the major league level last season, mostly against Lucas Duda, Justin Smoak, and Joey Gallo. Apparently, it’s happening against Yusniel Diaz now.
The MiLB TV camera feed from Richmond didn’t show the outfield on camera, but it happened and ended in an anti-climatic groundout to the shortstop. The shift came after Diaz started the game 2-2 with two doubles driven into the outfield, upping his batting average to .250 after just six games for the Bowie Baysox. The Squirrels didn’t employ this shift in his final at-bat with runners on base.
It hasn’t been just this particular play that has opened more eyes to Yusniel Diaz. In his first game of the season, Diaz made this throw from the warning track to gun down a Harrisburg Senator runner trying to stretch a single into a double.
I’ve mentioned numerous times that the Baltimore Orioles farm system is much better than what some evaluators give them credit for. DL Hall is a legitimate pitching prospect who should find his way into the major league rotation, as is last year’s first-round pick, Grayson Rodriguez. Position players such as Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays also figure to be prominent major league players.
More from Birds Watcher
- Baltimore Orioles Sign RP Mychal Givens
- Gunnar Henderson: Destroyer of Four-Seam Fastballs
- Which Current Baltimore Orioles Pitchers Have the Best Curveballs?
- Orioles News: Should the O’s Pursue Eovaldi? + More MLB News
- Should the Baltimore Orioles Consider Signing Nathan Eovaldi?
The more I watch Diaz, the more he becomes my favorite prospect in the system. From the cannon in right field, to his ability to mash line-drive home runs, Diaz is going to find his way onto the major league roster and it could be sooner than we thought.
He does still need some seasoning and won’t be making his debut in the next few weeks. However, odds are there will be a lot of movement around the trade deadline. If the veterans on the roster prove to be worth any sort of trade value, you have to imagine Mike Elias jumps. If Diaz can continue to hit as he has during spring training and the first week of the MiLB season, the Orioles will have no choice but to bring him up.
There’s a lot of pressure surrounding Diaz, being the cornerstone of the Manny Machado trade last season, but he doesn’t seem phased. The confident, hard-hitting Diaz we saw in spring training has found his way to Bowie, where he’s also showing that last year’s numbers with the Baysox can be largely ignored.
At the plate, Diaz is 5-20 with two doubles, one home run, and three walks. The Baysox kick off their home schedule on Thursday night as they welcome the Harrisburg Senators for their second series of the season. You can watch every Bowie Baysox game, featuring Yusniel Diaz, on MiLB TV.