Yandy Diaz reached base in three of six plate appearances for the Columbus Clippers last night in a 15-5 victory over the Louisville Bats.
The approach Yandy Diaz has when he steps into the batters box is simple:
How can I get on base?
I asked Clippers hitting coach Rouglas Odor about Diaz and he immediately responded by saying this:
Strike-zone discipline. He manages strike-zone discipline probably as good as anybody in the game.
Odor then elaborated on the discipline of Diaz at the plate:
He takes pitches that are out of the zone, but they’re marginal pitches, very close…He doesn’t go after those pitches. Stays in the zone. And if he doesn’t get a pitch, where, you know, he wants to, he’s not gonna go out of that zone. It’s impressive what he does…It’s pretty special to have a player like him who knows how to handle the strike zone.
It wasn’t much of a surprise that Diaz led off for Columbus on Monday night. Clippers Manager Chris Tremie talked about Diaz’ impact as a leadoff hitter for the club after the game:
He’s got the highest on-base percentage on the team and has over the last couple of years. He gets on base a lot…That’s what you want to start off an inning…You got a pretty good chance of him being on a couple times a night…That gives us an opportunity to score runs.
Diaz put himself on the map (if you will) as a bonafide hitter last season when he recorded a 28-game hitting streak with the Columbus Clippers that spanned from July 6 through August 10 of 2016.
During the offseason, Diaz made it a priority to work on his defense. Diaz has played all over the field defensively, with second base and shortstop being the positions he’s played most.
Diaz has been working on adjusting the throwing angles from different positions around the infield as well as creating the right arm-motion to make plays from all over the outfield.
There’s not much of a need to remind Diaz of what can go wrong if you’re not prepared defensively. Diaz, who’s from Cuba, reminisced over his first professional game in his home country. He still vividly remembers it to this day, but tells the story with a large grin, along with some laughter, when bringing up the memory nowadays.
In that specific game Diaz had two errors defensively and couldn’t fall asleep till 8 a.m. the next morning. The game, by the way, was also a playoff game and he had to get ready to play the next day as well. It was a rough next day for Diaz, but a valuable learning experience for the now 25-year old.
Admittedly, Diaz was feeling the pressure with thousands watching on the big stage he’d entered for the first time.
Diaz has marksman-like accuracy when hitting the ball, focusing more on reaching base than power numbers. However, it’s apparent that he could have some improved slugging statistics at some point when looking at his muscle-toned body. No joke. If you actually google his name, one of the first recommendations that comes up is “Yandy Diaz muscles”.
Diaz made his major-league debut with the Cleveland Indians this past April and batted .203 with an OBP of .268 in 64 at bats. Whether it’s sooner or later, there’s almost no doubt he’ll be back in the majors again.