Díaz on 2020: 'I've got a job to win'

November 27th, 2019

MIAMI -- A breakout 2019 season at Triple-A New Orleans made one of the top prospects in baseball. The left-handed-hitting second baseman belted 26 home runs in the Minor Leagues, and his standout performance propelled him onto MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list.

Díaz was a starter in the Sirius XM Futures Game in Cleveland, where he caught evaluators’ attention with the way he impacted the ball in batting practice.

The Marlins promoted the 23-year-old on Aug. 5, and in his Major League debut, Díaz’s first big league hit was a home run off two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.

At the time, Díaz ranked as Miami’s No. 5 prospect (No. 86 overall), according to MLB Pipeline.

Díaz is one of the young core players in a deep Marlins system, and he is considered the second baseman of the future.

Still, Díaz is taking nothing for granted.

“I’ve got a job to win,” Díaz said. “I’m going into Spring Training with the mentality to win a job, and to work hard every day, and to continue grinding.”

The starting job appears to be his, especially now that Starlin Castro, who moved to third base to make room for Díaz, is now a free agent.

Still, Díaz has to show he is ready.

As part of his offseason preparation, Díaz plans to play winter ball in Puerto Rico before Spring Training starts in mid-February.

Until Díaz starts playing in games, he has been staying in shape and working out at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. He’s working with the Marlins’ trainers and taking batting practice with teammates like and .

On Monday, Díaz was one of a handful of Marlins players to participate in the organization’s annual turkey distribution at Marlins Park.

“It’s great,” Díaz said at the event. “It’s something new for me to be out here, giving turkeys out and seeing everyone smiling and just enjoying the day. It’s really awesome.”

After getting a taste of the big leagues in 2019, Díaz is focused on doing what it takes to establish himself as a regular.

Even after Díaz dominated at Triple-A, he had his struggles in 49 games with the Marlins, batting .173/.259/.307 with five home runs and 23 RBIs. He had a 29.4 percent strikeout rate and a 9.5 walk percentage.

The adjustments to MLB pitching didn’t come as easily as it did for Díaz at New Orleans, where he had a slash line of .305/.395/.578 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs in 102 games.

A year ago, playing winter ball helped Díaz get ready for 2019. More than statistics, he was able to see live pitching, logging 114 at-bats in 33 games in Puerto Rico.

“Last year, I did two months in Puerto Rico,” Díaz said. “I think that really had a lot to do with my readiness coming into a Triple-A season. So coming into this year now, I’m trying to repeat the same things and actually add more than I had last year.

“It’s going to help me out a lot. Seeing the live pitching is going to help me out most of all.”