Diaz, Woodruff get taste of bigs at Miller Park

Duo was named Brewers' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year

September 24th, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- Infielder and pitcher Brandon Woodruff were at Miller Park on Saturday, getting a taste of what they hope will be their future office.

Following standout seasons, Diaz and Woodruff were recognized as the Brewers' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year. Diaz, acquired from the D-backs via trade this offseason, hit .264 with a .358 on-base percentage, .469 slugging percentage and 20 homers. Woodruff went 14-9 with a 2.68 ERA while leading all of the Minor Leagues with 173 strikeouts.

"This wouldn't be a bad job to come to every day," Woodruff said. "You see pictures of the stadium, but once you actually get in here and get a good view of it, it's pretty unique."

Following the festivities at Miller Park, Woodruff will begin a restful offseason highlighted by hunting and golfing. For Diaz, however, Saturday was just a brief pitstop as he launches his offseason baseball tour. The 20-year-old will fly home for a day before partaking in the fall instructional league, he said, and after that the Arizona Fall League.

Diaz will be among the younger players at the high-level Fall League, but his season with Class A Wisconsin was a good test in facing -- and succeeding against -- older competition.

"The game doesn't change," Diaz said. "It's just guys that are obviously at a higher level and are more consistent. They're a lot better than they are in the lower leagues.

"Obviously throughout the season I was pitched a little differently than all the other guys. The learning process was different, and it made me better as a hitter mentally. So I'm going and trying to stay with that same mentality."

Diaz was batting just .212 with three homers through the first two months of the season but quickly found his stroke as he went on to dominate Midwest League pitching the rest of the way.

"Just knowing who I was as a player, I knew I could hit and I knew I could do a lot of good things on the field," Diaz said. "Going out and giving 100 percent, it was just something that clicked for me."

Diaz was the clear choice for Player of the Year, Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said, but the organization yielded plenty of competition for Woodruff.

"On the hitting side, it was," Flanagan said. "It was kind of clear winner -- I don't mean unanimous choice. On the pitching side, there were a number of names that were very debatable. A lot of good years for pitchers, so we could go a few different ways this year. Brandon's was just a special overall year for what he did."

Among those names mentioned by Flanagan were left-hander and right-handers and Jon Perrin. However, Woodruff's season, which not only included a Southern League-best WHIP, batting average against and SO/9 but also overcoming the tragic death of his brother Blake in July, stood out among the crowd.

"I just go out each and every outing and treat it like it's my last," Woodruff said.