With the Rule 5 draft coming up in less than a month teams must make decisions about who they will add to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the potential of being selected by another team. While there are still several weeks until the draft, teams only have until November 19th to make their decisions on who to add. One of the players the Cincinnati Reds need to decide on is reliever Alexis Diaz.
The Case for Protection
Things went well for Alexis Diaz in the 2021 season. The Reds sent him to Double-A Chattanooga where he spent his entire season pitching for the Lookouts. In his 35 games in the Double-A South he posted a 3.83 ERA, throwing 42.1 innings on the season. Over that span he allowed just 30 hits, including just two home runs, while walking 20 batters and striking out 70 of the 180 that he faced.
The righty pitched well against both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters. Lefties hit just .173/.323/.231 against him – having just one extra-base hit, a homer, against him in 52 at-bats where they also struck out 29 times. Righties managed a .206/.289/.294 line against him on the season in 102 at-bats while striking out 40 times.
The now 25-year-old had plenty of performance, and he did so in the upper minor leagues. But it’s not just the performance, Alexis Diaz has legit stuff. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s and he’ll touch the upper 90’s, as well as a slider and change up – both that work in the mid-to-upper 80’s. His fastball and slider both have above-average spin rates, too. The slider profiles as an above-average offering.
It would seem to be a rather easy decision for another team to look at the profile for Alexis Diaz and pick him up in the Rule 5 draft if he were left unprotected. He’s got quality stuff, he’s performed in Double-A, and there doesn’t appear to be any obvious weakness.
The Case for leaving him exposed
If you made it through the case for protecting him then you will understand that it’s probably tough to make a case to leave Alexis Diaz out there, unprotected, available to another team. I’m not even sure that I can make one. So I won’t try.
What will happen?
This feels like an easy protection. The numbers are there. The stuff is there. A team that would select Alexis Diaz wouldn’t need to try and hide him in the bullpen somewhere and hope that the right situation is there for him to be used twice a week. He’s the kind of guy who could come into the big leagues and find a useful role from the beginning.