Diaz, Woodruff named Brewers' MLB Pipeline Prospects of the Year

Milwaukee's No. 8 prospect led Midwest League with 20 homers; No. 25 posted 2.68 ERA across two levels

October 10th, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- Picking an organization's Minor League player and pitcher of the year can sometimes be tricky, a balancing act of performance versus prospect status, and a subjective evaluation of statistics across different levels of competition.

But not always. This year in the Brewers' top-ranked system, infielder and pitcher Brandon Woodruff made it easy.

They were named Brewers prospects of the year by MLBPipeline.com after solid seasons in the middle of Milwaukee's farm chain. Diaz, acquired from the D-backs via trade last winter, hit .264 with a .358 on-base percentage, .469 slugging percentage and 20 homers at Class A Wisconsin. Woodruff split the season between Class A Advanced Brevard County and Double-A Biloxi, going 14-9 with a 2.68 ERA while leading all Minor Leaguers with 173 strikeouts.

They were also named Brewers Minor League player and pitcher of the year, and visited Miller Park in September.

"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 began a restful offseason highlighted by hunting and golfing. For Diaz, however, Miller Park represented just a brief pit stop as he launches his offseason baseball tour. The 20-year-old flew home for a day before joining the fall instructional league, and after that the Arizona Fall League.

Diaz, the Brewers' No. 8 prospect, will be among the younger players in the 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 some competition for Woodruff, the organization's No. 25 prospect.

"On the hitting side, it was," Flanagan said. "It was kind of [a] 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."