Minnesota Twins prospect Lewin Diaz struggled to start his pro career. Now, after a breakout season in 2016, he is thriving with Single-A Cedar Rapids.
The minor leagues have been a source of excitement for Minnesota Twins fans during some recent rough years. The anticipation of Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano coming to the majors was something to look forward to. Although they have started putting an exciting ball club on the field with those guys, the Twins still have talented prospects on the farm, including first base prospect Lewin Diaz.
Diaz, the No. 9 Twins prospect according to mlb.com, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, receiving a $1.4 million signing bonus. His first two seasons were not great. Over the course of his time with the DSL Twins, GCL Twins and Rookie League Elizabethton, he hit nine home runs while driving in 47 runs. His batting average over his first two seasons was just .244 and he struggled to show the raw power the Twins had hoped he would produce. He finally broke out in 2016.
Finally breaking through.
During his 2016 season, fullyspent with Elizabethton, Diaz hit .310 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs. He almost eclipsed his previous two-season totals in the campaign. He was second across all Rookie Leagues in slugging percentage (.575) and OPS (.928). The 2016 season showed Diaz was taking the strides the organization was hoping he would, even if it still wasn’t a full season of work.
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This season, Diaz is finally playing for a full season club. He has spent the whole season, so far, with the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Midwest League. Through 79 games (the most he has played in a minor league season), Diaz is hitting .286 with ten home runs and 49 RBIs.
He has shown not only flashes of power, but an ability to square up and hit the ball hard all across the diamond. In his last game, Diaz went two for four with a hard hit double and a single to left-center field. He seemed to be comfortable at the plate and able to hit the ball where he wanted, a sign of skills beyond raw power. That’s a promising sign for the 20-year-old kid.
Diaz has been a force in Single-A, hovering around the top of most offensive categories on the team and shining in the Midwest League as a whole. The hype in the Twins system may be around Nick Gordon, the abundance of top pitching prospects or even his Kernels teammate Travis Blankenhorn, but Diaz should not be overlooked. Diaz has shown he is the complete package.
It is not just his ability to hit, either. He can field with the best of them at first base and has the arm and ability to play right field. His size will keep him at first base, however. If he can keep performing, he can see himself shooting up the prospect lists and to the majors. He may still be in the midst of his first full season, but the potential is there. After a rough start to his career, he is starting to show he belongs by performing well at the levels he has played at.
The Twins have many prospects to get excited about. With Gordon playing in the Futures Game and the abundance of pitching talent, the organization should be ecstatic. However, Lewin Diaz has put in the work and has been succeeding. He should not be overlooked.