11. Derek Dietrich, 3B
Drafted: 2010, 2nd round (by Tampa Bay) out of Georgia Tech
Age: 23 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 200 lb.
After the Miami Marlins acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar in last November's blockbuster trade with Toronto, it became known that Escobar wasn't all that thrilled to be putting on a Miami jersey. And before you know it, the Fish had shipped Escobar off to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for 23-year-old infield prospect Derek Dietrich. Though it is unclear where Dietrich will stick defensively in the future, he offers some good pop and the ability to hit for average, making him the eleventh-best prospect on our Fish Stripes Top 20 list.
The Rays took Dietrich, the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket, as a shortstop with their second-round selection in the 2010 draft and sent him to low-A Hudson Valley to begin his professional career. As a member of the Renegades, Dietrich posted a solid line of .279./.340/.419 with three home runs and two stolen bases. What is perhaps most remarkable about Dietrich's professional career to this point is the lack of fluctuation in his numbers. Aside from Dietrich hitting for power more consistently since he entered the Rays' system, his average has hovered anywhere from .270-.280 and his OBP has remained around .330-.350. Still, some are unsure of whether these numbers will be able to hold up once Dietrich reaches the majors unless he is able to refine his approach and cut down on his strikeouts and increase his walk totals.
Dietrich's calling card is his above-average power, and his best season in the minors came in 2011 with single-A Bowling Green, where he led the team with 22 home runs. Dietrich's power ceiling at the major league level would be anywhere from 15-20 home runs per season, much like the National League infielder whom he draws frequent comparisons to, Danny Espinosa. The biggest question surrounding Dietrich remains where and how he'll play defensively. He was drafted by the Rays as a shortstop, but played all of last season as a second basemen. He doesn't necessarily have the power to profile perfectly at third base which is why despite his time spent at third this spring, he's more than likely to wind up back at second in the end. In February, the Miami Herald profiled how Dietrich was spending time working with infield coach Perry Hill (and as a totally badass amateur juggler), and all indications are that Dietrich has the athleticism to be at least an average defender when all is said and done.
Some felt that Miami took a lesser deal in not getting a better prospect from Tampa in exchange for Escobar, but Dietrich (who will likely start this season in Double-A Jacksonville) nonetheless gives the Fish a middle infielder with above-average pop and improving defensive skills that has chance to be a starter at second base within the next couple seasons.