Miami Marlins’ Isan Diaz excited for MLB opportunity
Isan Diaz has been studying his at-bats recently.
It’s something that has helped the Marlins’ highly touted rookie become more comfortable at the plate and remedy some of the struggles he has had since being called up from Triple A on Aug. 5.
“At first, you look at it, and it’s like, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ ” Diaz said. “Now I’m actually really trying to just ... come up with a better plan.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Diaz has been realistic about what he’s doing wrong, adding that the second baseman said he’s mostly been getting himself out at the plate.
“He’s right,” Mattingly said. “He’s getting himself out a lot. But the fact is that he realizes that, [and that] is a good sign. It’s not just like, ‘Oh, I’m not lucky,’ or something like that.
“He’s on the right track, and he’s gonna be a good one.”
That’s what the rebuilding Marlins had hoped after acquiring the 23-year-old in the trade that sent Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers in January 2018.
Diaz looked to be the Marlins’ surefire second baseman of the future after his performance in the minors earlier this year earned a selection to the second team All-Prospect team, as announced by MLB on Monday.
And despite his inability to perform at that same level through 32 games in Miami, the team is still confident he can be that player moving forward.
“It’s one of those things that as long as he’ll continue to work,” Mattingly said, “continue to just keep trying to get better … he’s gonna hit, because he’s got a good swing. I’ve said it a lot. He sees the ball good. And he can use the whole field. So all of the elements are there for him to hit, and what we’re seeing right now is little pieces of it.”
Diaz’s first major-league game featured a home run off 2018 Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, but since then, he has had trouble adjusting to the major-league level.
His strikeout rate is 27.5 percent (36 in 131 plate appearances) this season, compared with a 25.5 percent rate (96 in 377 appearances) with Triple A New Orleans earlier this year. And after hitting at a .305 clip with 70 RBI in 102 games in the minors, he’s hitting .158 with 14 RBI.
He has had the most trouble with offspeed pitches and breaking balls. And opposing team know it.
“They’re reacting to what they’re seeing,” Mattingly said of pitchers’ ability to exploit Diaz’s aggressiveness at the plate. “Each team is gonna react to what they’ve seen the series before and what they’re seeing in his at-bats and what the maps are telling them what to do with him and where you can get him out. So he has to really make the corrections as far as what he wants to hit, where he hits it.”
Diaz’s swing and misses have come on changeups 54.3 percent of the time and 42.6 percent of the time with curveballs and sliders. That number is just 14.6 percent with fastballs.
He’s hitting .233 against fastballs, but but only .074 (4 for 54) against everything else.
Diaz also has yet to record a hit against an offspeed pitch (0 for 28 with 15 strikeouts), and he’s 4 for 26 with 13 strikeouts against breaking balls.
The Marlins’ No. 5 prospect has shown flashes of the player the front office hoped he would be right away. He drove in two runs on two hits in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Brewers and said he hopes to work off that performance in Wednesday night’s Game 3 matchup against Milwaukee at Marlins Park.
Taking a closer look at his at-bats, making necessary adjustments and talking to guys about simplifying his game has helped with his comfort in the batter’s box, he said. And it’s just a matter of sticking to his approach.
“I feel like lately I’ve been a little too patient,” Diaz said. “Letting the pitcher get ahead, and now it’s just all about trying to be a little more aggressive and swing at better pitches.”