Lewin Diaz Begins Tapping Into Power
First baseman Lewin Diaz’s power has gradually increased over the past four seasons, just as the importance of power hitting has increased at the major league level. Those matching developments have turned Diaz into a prospect of interest for the organization.
"He’s got the launch angle and exit velocity that everybody is looking for,” vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "It’s hard to get those guys into your system and on your major league team.”
Trouble is, the 21-year-old Diaz is nowhere near ready for the major leagues. The beefy, lefthanded-hitting Dominican spent this season at low Class A Cedar Rapids, and while he clubbed 46 extra-base hits, including a Midwest League-leading 33 doubles, "he’s still quite a distance away from the major leagues,” Radcliff said.
"He’s got high upside—the strength and bat speed are progressing very well—but he’s a few years away. A lot can happen in those years.”
One thing could happen right away, however. Diaz could be selected in the Rule 5 draft, even without any upper-levels experience, because the Twins left him off the 40-man roster.
The Twins signed Diaz for $1.4 million in 2013, but the home run power he displayed during batting practice didn’t show up for his first two seasons. That changed at Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2016, when he smacked nine homers, and he reached a dozen homers at Cedar Rapids this year, while hitting .292/.329/.444 in 122 games.
Making the decision more complicated is the Twins’ determination that Diaz isn’t an outfielder. His size and lack of agility will limit him to first base. He has good hands and an arm that could make him a plus fielder, but his lack of versatility will limit his value.
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Still, "he certainly has power—plus power,” Radcliff said. "And he’s not just a slugger. He’s got presence at the plate, and a decent feel for pitch selection. We’re very happy with his progress. He’s just got more to make.”