The SF Giants might be in need of a middle infielder next season with one internal option being on a tear in Sacramento. Infielder Isan Díaz was traded to San Francisco earlier in the season from the Miami Marlins to give him a much-needed change of scenery.
SF Giants minor league infielder should get an audition in 2022
Those who follow the minor league circuit have known about Díaz for years. The 26-year-old was often regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball, ranking as high as No. 59 according to Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2017 season.
In 2018, he was shipped to the Marlins along with Monte Harrison, Lewis Brinson, and Jordan Yamamoto in a deal that sent star outfielder Christain Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers. That move was expected to change the trajectory of the Marlins but it never came to fruition.
All four prospects struggled badly in their time with Miami. Díaz, in particular, struggled to find any consistency against major league pitching. In three seasons with the Marlins, the middle infielder registered a .185/.275/.287 line (52 OPS+) with a 10.6 percent walk rate against a 27.7 percent strikeout rate while being worth -2.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
While his surface-level stats were far below average in many respects, some of the statcast numbers point to a slightly better hitter than what his numbers suggest. For example, he has an 88.5-MPH exit velocity and a 13.0-degree launch angle in three seasons with the Marlins.
On top of this, he has produced a ground ball in 44.4 percent of batted ball events. These are not great numbers but better than you would expect when you look at his triple-slash line.
Despite having one minor league option remaining, the Marlins decided to designate Díaz for assignment prior to the start of the 2022 season. He went unclaimed and was outrighted to Triple-A. Miami's Triple-A affiliate struggled to find at-bats for the former top prospect, so he was sent to the Giants at the end of April in exchange for future considerations.
This has proven to be a nice move for Sacramento as Díaz has been one of the more consistent hitters in the lineup. In 308 plate appearances, he has posted a .286/.390/.607 line (136 wRC+) with 23 home runs, 60 RBI, and 59 runs. This includes a 13.2 percent walk rate against a 25.1 percent strikeout rate.
The left-handed bat has been even better lately, recording a 1.203 OPS with three home runs in 35 at-bats in the month of August. The Giants have noticed his performance as well as he was part of the taxi squad just last month.
He has spent time at second base, shortstop, and third base in 2022. He has seen extensive time at each of these positions since becoming a pro in 2014. That said, the Giants do not seem convinced that Díaz can actually handle shortstop as they went out of the organization to acquire Dixon Machado when an emergency arose last month.
Nevertheless, it has been a strong campaign for him. If the SF Giants continue to fade out of the playoff picture, it would behoove them to start thinking about 2023. Díaz is younger and more athletic than most of the players on the Giants roster and has earned a chance for an audition.