By Yusseff Díaz
Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Diaz is a second-generation baseball player; his father Jorge “the Spider” Diaz was a fringe Cuban national team player. Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy
Díaz signed with Cleveland in 2013 as an international free agent. The following year he made his minor league debut with the Carolina Mudcats hitting .286 with two big flies and 37 runs batted in. In his second minor league season which was spent between Akron (AA) and Columbus (AAA) hit a combined .309 with 7 roundtrippers and 56 RBI’s, to impress the Cleveland hierarchy.
The Minors and making a debut
For Díaz 2016 was a breakout year, he hit .318 and was named the International League rookie of the year. He also earned a spot in the Futures Game. The young Cuban was the sensation of spring training in 2017 hitting an impressive .458 and posting a 1.252 OPS to earn a spot on the roster as the starting third baseman to open the campaign.
Yandy Díaz spent the season between Columbus and the big club when he came up in second half of the season after a short stint in AAA, he hit a blistering .304 with 13 RBI’s and was a big contributor in the Indian’s 21 game win streak that year, but he was inexplicably left off the playoff roster.
In 2018 he had a terrible spring and started the season in the minors to his dismay and dissatisfaction he said, “The demotion frustrated me a little, but I used it as motivation. I was a little upset, but I kept at it and earned my way back to the big club.”
The young Cuban took out his frustrations on International League pitching hosting .293, in his first game back in the Majors he had three hits, during the season he managed to clout the first big fly of his career. During the 2018 MLB season, Yandy was shown a new position, a third baseman by trade, he decided to learn first base to help the ball club and his countrymen Yonder Alonso was there to assist him in his transition.
” Having Yonder here was a Godsend, he gave many tips on how to play the position that I was able to apply during games,” Yandy Diaz would say. “The key to being a good defensive first baseman is to work on your craft every day tirelessly and everything will fall into place from there,” Also advised him. Yonder’s advice and hard work paid off because Díaz didn’t make in error and had a fielding percentage of 1.000 for the season at the position.
A new lease on life
Closing the season, Díaz thought that he might have finally played himself into Cleveland’s plans. His thoughts were mistaken because during the off-season he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in the
2018 MLB offseason in a three-way trade that brought Carlos Santana back to the tribe. This opened a big opportunity for the native of Santa
Clara and he was penciled in at number one spot on the Rays’ depth chart at third base.
The 2019 season started off with a bang. Adjustments to his swing gave him a better launch angle and added more pop to his swing.
A season that was derailed and ended by a lower extremity, injury saw the young Cuban go yard 14 times and drive in 38 runs in only 79 games.
In 2020, a fully recovered Diaz had a good COVID-19 shortened season. Although he only hit two longballs in a 34 games he did slash .307/.428/.386/.814 and drove in 11 runs. Although the team brought in Hunter Renfroe and former Japanese star Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to provide protection in the lineup for the young slugger, these acquisitions did not pan out and are no longer with the team.
In spite of their shortcomings on the offensive side of the ball Tampa did take the Dodgers to six games in a highly competitive World Series, making the season a success.