Padres’ Rule-5 Pick Miguel Diaz Will Have a Mentor in Luis Perdomo

Credit: Brad Krause
Credit: Brad Krause

The San Diego Padres once again rolled the dice when it came to the 2016 Rule-5 draft.

A.J. Preller is loading the farm system with an influx of youth and he will acquire it any way he can.

Just like last season, when the team selected four players (Jabari Blash, Luis Perdomo, Josh Martin, and Blake Smith) in the draft, the Padres once again went shopping and selected three in the regular version of the draft, and selected one from the Triple-A Rule-5 draft.

Miguel Diaz, Luis Torrens, and Allen Cordoba were taken with the first three picks of the Rule-5 draft. Then Trevor Frank was taken in the Triple-A version of the draft by the Friars. The former prep standout at Valhalla High School went on to pitch for the University of Riverside. He was in the Indians system last year where he recorded a 2.47 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP at the Triple-A level. He does not need to be kept on the 25-man roster the whole season so he could eventually be a useful piece of the bullpen puzzle for manager Andy Green.

Allen Cordoba is very raw, but is an enticing prospect despite never playing over the Rookie Ball level in the Cardinals organization. He continually has barreled up baseballs, but will surely be overwhelmed facing major league caliber pitchers. Time will tell with this young man. Torrens is a catcher whom the Padres paid a hefty price for. He was selected by the Reds in the Rule-5 draft from the Yankees, and was then traded to the Padres for prospect Josh Van Meter. That’s a pretty decent haul in return for a Rule-5 pick, but the Padres are loaded with second base talent and he was surely deemed expendable by A.J. Preller and company.

Miguel Diaz made an interesting choice for the 2016 Rule-5 draft, as he has some similarities to Luis Perdomo that cannot be ignored. The 22-year-old Dominican right-handed pitcher, like Perdomo in 2015, has never pitched above Single-A baseball. He has shown some flashes of brilliance, but has virtually no experience against seasoned hitters. He has control issues as well, something that also plagued Perdomo early on in his professional career.

He does own some interesting numbers. Last season against left-handed batters, he was surprisingly better. He held lefties to a .204/.277.323 batting line in 167 at bats versus a .244/.301/.373 against right-handed hitters in 201 at bats. The fact that he can get batters out equally from both sides of the plate dictates that he has a real chance to progress. Diaz also threw 80-plus pitches in five starts last season, so his arm issues (fractured elbow) are a thing of the past.

Last season in Single-A, Miguel Diaz went 1-8 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.183 WHIP. He pitched in 26 games, starting 15, for a total of 9.2 innings. He struck out 91 batters in that time while walking 29. When dissecting his numbers from last year, you will see that Diaz had one rough month and was dominant the rest of the season. In the month of May he allowed 22 out of his 49 total runs on the season. In April, June, July, and August, he allowed 27 runs. In those six starts in the month of May he was simply rocked, but was lights out the rest of the way. The fact that his rough month was early on and he progressed from that is a positive sign.

Here is what his manager, Matt Erickson, said about Diaz after a start last season against the Kane County Cougars. Diaz went 6.1 innings, only allowing two hits and walking one while striking out eight:

“He’s got a big arm. He’s got the most arm strength probably of anybody on our staff, so he’s capable of dominating lineups on any given night with his stuff. Once in a while, there are some command issues there,” Erickson said. “He doesn’t always execute his pitches where he wants to, but today the ball was jumping out of his hand and he had swing-and-miss stuff. I thought Max McDowell, our catcher, did a great job calling the game, calling pitches, and he didn’t have to pitch out of the stretch very much.”

The San Diego Padres need starting pitchers for the upcoming season. Is it possible that they could keep Diaz the whole year? Take a look at this video. The kid has a presence about him on the bump, and that says a lot for his potential future success in the major leagues. He will go through rough spots, there is no avoiding that. He just needs to keep his focus on getting better, and with that, he could be serviceable in 2016 for the Friars. Pitching with confidence will be no problem for this young man who looks wise beyond his years despite just learning his craft.

The 2017 rotation is hurting right now. Luis Perdomo has taken on the role as staff ace for the moment, and with that title comes a certain amount of responsibility. Taking on a role of a mentor might be strange for a man who is a year removed from making his major league debut, but Perdomo has the intangibles to do it. He has already proven that he take criticism from his coaches and not get offended. He has also quickly made adjustments that the coaching staff has asked him to make. Those kind of intangibles cannot be taught, either you have them or you don’t. Perdomo clearly has them.

A.J. Preller is all about cultivating this farm system and getting the best out of it. Having a young player like Diaz on your team can kill a pitching staff if he cannot get outs consistently. The Padres should not expect miracles, and they probably do not, but he has to be serviceable to remain on the 25-man roster all season long. That is where Perdomo comes in. He can fill the void left by Carlos Villanueva, The veteran right-hander was a mentor to Perdomo during the 2016 season. You can expect Perdomo to take the young Diaz under his wing. Who better to know the feelings of a player in this position than someone who just went through it. To expect Diaz to become the next Luis Perdomo is unrealistic. He is his own pitcher, and once he figures that out and becomes comfortable, then Padres management will see what he has to offer to the staff. Luis Perdomo will be on his side, you can count on that.

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