Feb 16, 2023; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Yainer Diaz (21) catches a pitch during the Houston Astros spring training workouts at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Astros Player of the Day: Yainer Diaz
Welcome to Gallery Sports’ Houston Astros Spring Training player spotlight: Astros Player of the Day. We will look at a different Astros player each day throughout the spring.
Today’s Astros Player of the Day is catcher Yainer Diaz.
Originally acquired by the Astros at the deadline in 2021, Diaz wasn’t even mentioned in most articles discussing the trade which featured Houston sending starting center fielder Myles Straw to Cleveland for relief pitcher Phil Maton. Diaz was the epitome of a ‘throw-in’ at the time, but times have changed.
Today, Diaz may be the player in the deal with the brightest future. Currently rated as the Astros third-best prospect by MLB.com, Diaz has also been rated by Baseball America as the best hitting prospect in Houston’s system for both average and power.
Diaz’ best tool is his bat, and he is coming off a season in which he hit .306 with an .898 OPS across 445 at bats between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land. Diaz smacked 25 home runs and drove in 96 runs while managing a respectable .356 OBP. He also hit for better power at the higher level.
Defensively, Diaz has played 198 career minor league games behind the plate and 48 at first base. with some games in both left and right field. With his strong bat, Diaz’s best position would be catcher, although he is still a bit of a work in progress defensively when it comes to both framing and blocking pitches.
Diaz had a cup of coffee with the Astros last season, appearing in six games, but only logged nine plate appearances. He went 1-for-8 with a double and a walk.
Diaz has a legitimate chance to make the Astros’ Opening Day roster with a strong spring and improved defensive play. He will be in a competition with fellow prospect Korey Lee, who is better defensively than Diaz entering the spring but not as polished with the bat. This will be one of the few positional battles that take place in spring training for Houston.