Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Derek Diamond's Quietly Strong Season

Derek Diamond is having a solid, but quiet 2023 season

Ole Miss pitcher Derek Diamond (2) delivers a pitch to the plate as he pitches against Vanderbilt
Ole Miss pitcher Derek Diamond (2) delivers a pitch to the plate as he pitches against Vanderbilt / Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content

2022 draft pick Derek Diamond is having a quietly strong first full professional season in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization

One of the Pittsburgh Pirates draft picks from 2022, Derek Diamond, is having a pretty solid season in his first full pro year. Diamond was selected sixth overall out of Ole Miss, fresh off their College World Series run.

Diamond’s numbers in his final season did not inspire much confidence. He had an ERA approaching 7.00 with an HR/9 of 1.93. But regardless of how he did as an amateur, Diamond has found his footing in the pro circuit.

Diamond currently owns a 3.98 ERA, but a 3.66 FIP, 3.82 xFIP, and 1.23 WHIP through 74.2 innings. Some of his struggles this year can be traced to some bad batted ball luck. He just now got his batting average on balls in play below .330. Going into the month of July, Diamond had a .351 batting average on balls in play (BAbip).

His primary secondary pitch is a slider, but he’ll also throw a curveball and changeup. Both his slider and curveball also have above-average spin. However, he can take a lot of spin off of his changeup, going down to just 1600.

Diamond might have the best control in the system, outside of Anthony Solometo. Diamond does not walk batters. He has just a 4.9% walk rate. Among all minor league pitchers with at least 60 frames, Diamond has the 12th lowest walk rate. That’s out of 368 pitchers. Because he has such a low walk rate, it helps offset his low strikeout rate of just 20.4%. His 4.2 K:BB ratio is the 30th highest among pitchers with 60+ IP. However, preventing walks isn’t his only strength.

He also excels at limiting home runs. Diamond has allowed just five home runs all year, which is good for an HR/9 of 0.60. He’s an expert at inducing ground balls with a 53.3% ground ball rate. Plus he has a sub-30% fly ball rate, coming in at just 28%.

There was certainly hope that Diamond could develop into a big league starter. Projectability, athleticism, and pitchability were all of his strengths coming out of college. Diamond has a fluid motion with a low arm slot. On top of that, he seems to be able to put the ball where he wants. 

The Pirates should move Diamond to the next level soon. He is already 22-years-old and is still at Bradenton. With the amount of movement throughout the organization right now with players, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Diamond moved up once some of the recent draft picks sign to get them some playing time, while also getting Diamond to Greensboro.

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