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2021 Marlins Season Preview: Isan Díaz

In 2021, the young Puerto Rican will receive another chance to be an everyday player for the Marlins.

Miami Marlins Summer Workouts Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

2B Isan Díaz

Opening Day age: 24 | Bats: left | Throws: right | Listed at 5-11, 201 lbs.

Acquired by Marlins from Brewers via trade along with OFs Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison and RHP Jordan Yamamoto in exchange for OF Christian Yelich (January 25, 2018).


Díaz made everybody fall in love with him in 2019, his second season in the Marlins organization. In 102 games at the Triple-A level, he registered 21 doubles, two triples, and 26 home runs (377 at-bats). He drove in 70 runs and scored 89 times, taking 49 walks and posting a .305/.395/.578 slash line. That production would later earn him Marlins Minor League Player of the Year honors. The Miami organization and its fans so desperately wanted to believe he could translate that to the majors, softening the blow of seeing Christian Yelich excel in Milwaukee.

Díaz made his debut with a bang during a doubleheader on August 5, against the New York Mets. What a story, right? The young second baseman crushed his first home run off JACOB DEGROM!

Well, that would prove to be one of his few major league highlights in 2019. He finished with a .173/.259/.307 slash line and more strikeouts (59) than games played (49). And even though he showed some electricity with his bat (five doubles, two triples, five homers), the young Puerto Rican never found consistency.

In 2020, he had the chance to be the regular second baseman for the Marlins, but sat out a portion of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Díaz’s midsummer return lasted only seven games (.182/.182/.182) before suffering a groin injury. A winter ball stint didn’t really help or hurt his cause—he played four games with Criollos de Caguas before returning to the U.S.

So far, so bad for Díaz after 56 MLB games. Although it’s still a relatively small sample, his .174/.251/.294 career slash line, 29.6 strikeout percentage, and 88.3 MPH average exit velocity are underwhelming for somebody with such a fundamentally sound swing.


What’s next?

2021 ZiPS projection: .230/.307/.364, 81 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR

2021 PECOTA projection (50th percentile): .219/.302/.406, 94 DRC+, 0.8 WARP

Díaz is not done yet. He’s very young, has shown flashes of good offense in the upper levels of the minors, and will be given more chances to seize the second base job with the Marlins. For him, it’ll be pretty important to have a good performance in spring training because he’s in the middle of a position battle with Jazz Chisholm. Díaz is the oldest and most experienced guy out of the two.

Now recovered from the injury that made him miss the end of the 2020 season, Díaz will need to convince the Marlins that he’s the man to own second base. Working to his advantage, it has been his natural position throughout the majority of his professional career.

An ideal scenario for the Marlins is Díaz sticks at second, having a good 2021 season and projecting himself as the long-term solution, while Chisholm sees more action in the minors to finalize his development. Then, the latter could be ready to grab the everyday shortstop duties in either late 2021 or early 2022 when Miguel Rojas, naturally and eventually, moves into a reserve/utility role.

Fortunately, there’s still some margin of error for Díaz. He does have two minor-league options available, so he can be sent down if he struggles offensively for an extended period.

Poll

Will Isan Díaz win the second base job?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Yes!
    (24 votes)
  • 42%
    No way
    (18 votes)
42 votes total Vote Now