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Brewers in AFL: Youngster Diaz gaining valuable experience

MLB Pipeline checks in on Milwaukee's prospects participating in the Arizona Fall League
October 26, 2016

After a year that saw him join the Brewers in an offseason trade and then win the organization's Minor League Player of the Year award, Isan Diaz is now showcasing his upside as the Arizona Fall League's third-youngest position player.Acquired from the D-backs in late January as part of the

After a year that saw him join the Brewers in an offseason trade and then win the organization's Minor League Player of the Year award, Isan Diaz is now showcasing his upside as the Arizona Fall League's third-youngest position player.
Acquired from the D-backs in late January as part of the deal that brought Aaron Hill and Chase Anderson to Milwaukee and sent Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner to Arizona, Diaz's selection for the Fall League comes on the heels of an impressive full-season debut with Class A Wisconsin.
Complete Arizona Fall League Coverage
At age 20, Diaz hit 20 homers to lead the Midwest League, tied for third in RBIs (75) and finished fourth in slugging percentage (.469). The performance was an impressive follow-up to his 2015 campaign in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he batted .360/.436/.640 with 13 home runs en route to winning the circuit's MVP award.
"It was a fun year," said Diaz, the Brewers' No. 8 prospect and No. 96 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list . "Obviously very cold up there and I had a lot of adjustments to make throughout the season, but I was learning a lot and there were a lot of adjustments made, mentally and physically."
Now suiting up for the Salt River Rafters in Arizona, Diaz is relishing playing alongside and against other top prospects just as he embraced his trade to the Brewers in the offseason.
"It was a great opportunity," said Diaz about the trade. "I'm very blessed to be a part of something like that early in my career, and I'm very honored to be with the Brewers today and here in the Fall League.
"Mentally, with all these older guys, I'm trying to improve and learn. These guys know a lot about the game."
In terms of his performance, Diaz has opened the Fall League by batting .222 with nine strikeouts in his first 27 at-bats for the Rafters, although he has more than held his own against the advanced competition.
At the plate, the left-handed-hitting Diaz continues to exhibit the type of plus bat speed and plus raw power to all fields -- four of his six hits in the Fall League have been for extra bases including an impressive opposite-field home run -- that one day could make him an All-Star-caliber middle infielder at the highest level.
For now, however, Diaz chooses not look too far down the road, preferring instead to keep his Fall League objectives in focus as he prepares for the 2017 season.
"[I'm] just here trying to take advantage of all the opportunities I can get; learning and taking control of things the best I can and showing everyone what I can do."
Brewers hitters in the Fall League
Isan Diaz, SS/2B
Jacob Nottingham, C
Brett Phillips, OF
Acquired in February from the A's -- who had acquired him from the Astros in July -- Nottingham, the Brewers' No. 14 prospect, struggled with the move up to Double-A Biloxi, batting .234 with 138 strikeouts in 112 games. Concerns remain regarding the 21-year-old's ability to remain behind the plate, but there's enough offensive upside there to support a move down the defensive spectrum.
The Brewers' No. 7 prospect and No. 62 on the Top 100, Phillips, after batting .310 and .309 in back-to-back years, had his average drop to .229 this season at Biloxi. An increased strikeout rate heavily influenced the 22-year-old outfielder's struggles, although he still managed to hit 16 home runs and steal 12 bases in 124 games, highlighting his power-speed potential.
Brewers pitchers in the Fall League

Javier Salas, RHP
Tayler Scott, RHP
Tyler Spurlin, RHP
Josh Uhen, RHP
Salas, 24, is using the Fall League to make up for lost time after making two trips to the disabled list and logging just 66 2/3 innings during the regular season. The 6-foot-4 right-hander pitches at 91-94 mph with his fastball and supports it with a trio of secondary pitches including a mid-80s slider that flashes a tick above average.
Signed as a Minor League free agent in July after parts of five seasons in the Cubs' system, the South African-born Scott held opposing hitters to a .212 clip over 24 relief appearances for Biloxi in 2016. The 23-year-old right-hander features a five-pitch mix but relies mostly on his 91-93 mph four-seam fastball as well as his pair of breaking balls.
Spurlin has stood out among Brewers prospects in this year's Fall League, both in terms of his performance and stuff. The side-arming right-hander tops out around 92 mph with his sinker and complements it with a low-80s slider, making him particularly effective against same-side hitters. He's allowed one earned run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings for the Rafters so far in Arizona after establishing career highs in appearances (50) and innings pitched (52) during the regular season between Biloxi and Class A Advanced Brevard County.
Uhen, in his first season as a full-time reliever, turned in a strong first half at Brevard County but then struggled after the All-Star break, when he posted a 6.62 ERA and allowed 27 hits over his final 17 2/3 frames. The 24-year-old right-hander did rebound to finish the year on a high note, making four scoreless appearances for Biloxi in his first taste of the Double-A level.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero