Ok, I took some liberties with the title. We have no idea if the Cuban free agent shortstop ever met eyes, let alone shook hands with the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2013 shortstop when the former arrived at Jupiter, Florida’s Roger Dean Stadium for a Wednesday workout.
Even if not, the two, Aledmys Diaz and Pete Kozma, have similarities – a good reputation with the glove and questions about the bat. In fact, look at these slash lines (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS).
Kozma 2013 MLB: .217/.275/.273/.548
Diaz career MLE: .212/.274/.306/.580
Other than a little more pop from Diaz, at a high level, the two look like the essentially the same player at the plate.
In all fairness to the Cuban, that Major League Equivalency was calculated over his entire four-plus years in his homeland’s Serie Nacional de Beisbol. If you take his final year only, 2012, his equivalent line would improve somewhat to .237/.299/.381/.680. In addition, though Diaz’ reported age has fluctuated, he appears to be two years younger than Kozma – 23 versus 25 – the same age as Kolten Wong.
Feel better now?
(These equivalencies come directly from former Baseball Prospectus’ head Clay Davenport’s invaluable translations engine, which converts results from specific minor leagues into their Major League equivalents.)
Looking at Diaz’ offensive numbers from this perspective would seem to cast into question remarks made by his agent, Jaime Torres, to Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Strauss on Wednesday. Torres, who has much to benefit from being optimistic, says he believes Diaz could be ready to break camp with a major league club following a normal spring training regimen.
Strauss seemed to agree, calling Diaz “a major league-ready international player.”
The P-D report energized many. One excited Cardinals blogger wondered aloud if Diaz could be a better prospect than Oscar Taveras. Yes, that Oscar Taveras, the one who is among the consensus top three prospects in the game.
On the other hand, national writers seem to have struck a more realistic perspective. For example, Ben Badler of Baseball America said Diaz would not register among his top 100 prospects. (h/t to PadsFS from TCN’s message board for the prior two references.)
From the defensive perspective, the idea of Diaz being MLB-ready may well be true. Though it is worth noting that irrespective of where Diaz decides to sign, the Cardinals 2013 shortstop seems destined to open 2014 in the minor leagues due to his sub-par performance with the bat.
After looking at Diaz’ Cuban hitting results in an MLB context, one has to wonder. Perhaps starting every day in the minor leagues would be the best thing for him as well in his initial adjustment period to playing in the USA.
Ironically, it could be alongside Kozma in Memphis. If so, I wonder how they would be placed in the Redbirds’ batting order.
Earlier related article: “How much fire is behind the Cardinals’ Aledmys Diaz smoke?”
Update 3/10: Davenport updated his MLE for Diaz based on his Cuban results to .229/.307/.360/.667.