Colorado Springs, Colorado —— Who doesn’t love a good Jumbo Diaz story?
Last night, the 6’4″, 314-lb. (!) 34-year-old veteran of four big league seasons pitched for the New Orleans Baby Cakes, the Miami Marlins Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, on the road in chilly Colorado Springs against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Diaz worked the game’s final 1.1 innings, taking the loss on a walk-off single from Milwaukee Brewers prospect Jacob Nottingham, but it was the eighth inning — a clean frame for the super-sized reliever — that stuck.
In that first frame last night, Jumbo Diaz sat 95-99 mph with his four-seam fastball, and paired it with a 93-96 mph two-seamer, a hard 86-90 mph wipeout splitter, and a nice 82-86 mph slider that flashed feel to both sides of the strike zone. As burly as ever, Diaz struck out the side in the eighth with that overwhelming repertoire on a remarkably cold, windy night. Then, he even looked like an athlete coming off the mound to field his position on a sacrifice bunt in the ninth, though his command quickly betrayed him as he got extended in that second frame.
Our video of every pitch Jumbo Diaz threw last night for the New Orleans Baby Cakes:
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The Miami Marlins may have something in Jumbo Diaz. If he continues touching 99 mph with a wipeout splitter and feel for a slider, there’s a chance a contender could come calling in two or three months in search of a cheap (but maybe viable!) bullpen arm. Having not kept up with Diaz’s career after leaving Cincinnati, I was surprised to see he spent the bulk of 2017 in the big leagues with the Tampa Bay Rays, too, so he’s not far removed already and could be a feasible option for a club seeking cheap, temporary relief help.
Of course, this kind of movement happens quite a bit with relief arms who can provide short-term aid. The morning after I saw veteran Chaz Roe throw an inning in relief for Triple-A Gwinnett last July, he was shipped to Tampa Bay and ended up pitching meaningful innings down the stretch in 2017. Two days after I watched Rubby De La Rosa sit at 99 mph at Triple-A Reno last June, he was called up to help the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ beleaguered bullpen.
Maybe there’s a similar situation awaiting Jumbo Diaz. Pro scouts are likely out there doing due diligence and writing him up now. Perhaps soon, a contender (or wannabe contender) will reach out to the Miami Marlins about relief help. It won’t be a blockbuster deal, and Jumbo Diaz alone won’t push a team into the playoffs, but the stuff he showed last night tells me there’s still modest value there.
Maybe nothing will come from all this, but if you see Jumbo Diaz on the move over the next few months, you heard it here first: he’s flashing filthy stuff, he’ll come cheap, and if a team uses him in the right situations, damn it if he may not turn out to be a shrewd little (er, big?) acquisition.
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