The Pittsburgh Pirates have recently claimed former top first base prospect Lewin Diaz off waivers from the Miami Marlins.
Craig Mish was also the first to report the transaction:
This marks the second left-handed hitting first baseman the team has acquired this month, as they sent relief prospect Jack Hartman to the Tampa Bay Rays for Ji-Man Choi a few weeks ago. Diaz, a former top prospect, will likely serve as first base depth, something the team desperately still needs.
Diaz has appeared in the last three seasons for the Marlins. In total, he’s collected 343 plate appearances, but struggled so far. In total, he’s posted a .181/.227/.340 slashline to go with a .244 wOBA, and 54 wRC+. It’s been a real struggle for Diaz in the major leagues and he’s struck out 28.9% of the time with an abysmal 5.9% walk rate. Of the few positives, he has hit 13 home runs in less than 350 PAs, but that’s about all worth mentioning with his bat.
But Diaz has been nothing short of Gold Glove caliber with the glove at first base. He’s only appeared in 753.2 frames at the position, but has an astounding +16 Defensive Runs Saved and +9 Outs Above Average. Despite playing sparingly across three seasons, only Christian Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks has collected more DRS at +20 despite playing 1770.2 more innings at the position than Diaz.
Another positive is Diaz has produced extremely well against Triple-A pitching. In 680 trips to the dish, Diaz has hit .250/.325/.504 with a .356 wOBA, and 125 wRC+. He’s hit for his fair share of power with 39 home runs and a .254 isolated slugging percentage.
While he strikes out a ton in the major leagues, Diaz only had a 19.9% strikeout rate through his Triple-A playing time, and paired that with an 8.5% walk rate.
Diaz also has some prospect noteriety attached to him. Acquired at the 2019 trade deadline from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Sergio Romo, he was considered a borderline top 100 by many publications. FanGraphs topped him out at no. 112 in 2020. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 5th best first base prospect in 2020 as well.
Diaz has no minor league options remaining, so it’s far from a guarentee he even makes it out of Spring Training as part of the 40-man roster. Diaz has hit for a ton of power in the minor leagues, but that hasn’t translated to big league success with a sub-20% strikeout rate at the highest level of MILB. But he provides one of the best defensive gloves at first base in the league and depth at a position the Pittsburg Pirates have little at.