The Los Angeles Dodgers sent eight proscts to the Arizona Fall League this year, and two of them, Yusniel Diaz and Matt Beaty were selected to start in the 2017 Fall Stars Game. Will Smith, who ranks fifth in the circuit with a 1.009 on-base plus slugging percentage, was somehow omitted from the exhibition game.
D.J. Peters, another top 20 prospect in the Dodgers organization, has struggled in his limited time in the AFL. As for Beaty and Diaz, the former didn’t make much of an impression in the Fall Stars Game, while the latter showed flashes of promise.
Diaz, a native of Cuba, received a $15.5 million bonus in July of 2015. The 21-year-old repeated High-A Rancho Cucamonga this season before earning a promotion to Double-A Tulsa in August. He thrived with Tulsa, batting .333/.390/.491 in 31 games to finish the season.
So far with the Glendale Desert Dogs, he’s hitting .273/.353/.364 in 12 games. In the Fall Stars Game, Diaz started in right field and batted seventh.
He didn’t wait long to make an impression. In the second inning, with runners on the corners and the West team down, 1-0, he showed a good eye by taking a few close pitches before lining a 95-mph fastball back up the middle for a run-scoring single.
In the bottom of the inning, he made a nice running catch on a hard-hit ball over his head. That was the only ball Diaz would field in the game.
He put together another couple solid at-bats before being removed in the sixth inning. In his second at-bat, Diaz couldn’t connect on a 2-0 fastball down the middle at the belt, but he made solid contact on a 2-2 slider that he pulled to third base and ran hard down the line, making it a close play.
In his third at-bat, he turned on a 97-mph fastball down and in but grounded it right to the shortstop.
Beaty was a surprise inclusion on the Fall Stars roster. While he was named MVP of the Texas League this year, he’s hit just .191/.224/.383 in a dozen AFL games, though he does have three doubles and two homers.
In his first plate appearance, Beaty faced a lefty throwing 97-98 and fouled off a couple impressive fastballs before chasing a slider down and in to strike out. He fared better in his second plate appearance, though.
Beaty swung and missed at a first pitch breaking ball in the dirt, but took the next two pitches to get ahead in the count. He fouled off another slider, then didn’t offer on a great changeup that just missed the bottom of the zone, ultimately drawing a walk on a low fastball.
Beaty played left field but wasn’t really tested. He fielded a ball hit down the line and made a solid throw to second on a double. It was one of only two balls hit his way on the night.
It would have been nice to see Smith play, especially since he missed the final month and a half of the season due to a broken hand, but Diaz showed well enough to give fans something to talk about.
His plate discipline, solid contact and athleticism in the field were on display and he’ll justifiably rank highly in upcoming top prospect lists. Beaty may not have the pedigree, but his production makes him someone to watch going forward.