Baltimore Orioles: Three Rebound Candidates For The 2020 Season
The Baltimore Orioles need Yusniel Diaz to stay healthy.
We’re taking a trip to the minor leagues to find our rebound candidate in the outfield. After missing chunks of time due to injury in 2019 and finishing the season while clearly playing at less than 100%, will 2020 be the year for Yusniel Diaz?
Diaz probably won’t see the major leagues this season, but that’s ok. Austin Hays is the favorite to take over in center field, Anthony Santander proved he deserves significant playing time in the outfield, while guys like DJ Stewart, Dwight Smith Jr. and Cedric Mullins will all compete for roster spots and attempt to prove themselves valuable to the organization.
Meanwhile, Diaz can fully recover from his hamstring issues and put on a show in Harbor Park next year as he likely spends the majority of the season in Triple-A.
Many thought Diaz would make the major league roster out of spring training last season. In 15 Grapefruit League games, Diaz hit .306 with a home run, three doubles, and a .788 OPS. Instead, following his ideology of not rushing prospects, Mike Elias sent Yusniel Diaz to Double-A Bowie
Diaz, like the entire Bowie roster, came out of the gate slow, hitting .225 with five extra-base hits in 20 games. He would miss all of May before returning to the lineup in June and hitting .232 with six home runs and an .831 OPS (an increase of 180 points compared to his April OPS) in 21 games.
July was the most successful month of play for Diaz and, from an offensive standpoint, looked much like the Diaz many scouts and evaluators believe will show up in the major leagues. In 28 games, Diaz hit .299 with a .353 OBP, three home runs, 12 doubles, and an .867 OPS. Unfortunately, he would play in just seven games at the Double-A level in August and September, combined.
Diaz may not become a multi-time All-Star for the Orioles, but he can still develop into a major league contributor. If he can replicate his .262/.335/.472 slash, .210 ISO, and 135 wRC+ that he posted with Bowie last season, but over the course of a full season and not just 76 games, Orioles fans should be more than pleased.