During Friday afternoon’s contest against the Detroit Tigers, Yandy Diaz hopefully provided a glimpse of the change that the Rays hoped he’d make when they acquired him in December.
Yandy Díaz, home run hitter. #SpringRays pic.twitter.com/qhqjvG4IWB— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 15, 2019
Diaz, is one of the most impressive physical specimens in all of baseball, but has struggled to put up power numbers that are accustomed to players of his physique over his career.
Sure he’s been a fantastic hitter, hitting .283/.361/.366 in the majors, but he has just one home run over 299 big league plate appearances (he had just 3 HR over 426 minor league plate appearances in 2018).
His low power numbers can be attributed to his war on the ground, (56.6% career ground ball rate) as well as his opposite field approach (34.4% of his batted balls go the opposite way). This home run eschewed both trends.
The Rays clearly thought highly of Diaz when they dealt former top prospect Jake Bauers, along with $5M in order to complete the deal, to bring Diaz to Tampa Bay. Diaz entered spring in competition for the starting first base job, where he’d most likely share duties with Ji-Man Choi, but an injury to Matt Duffy may free him to play his natural third base.