Scouting the Orioles’ Return for Manny Machado

The prospect package acquired from Los Angeles in exchange for Manny Machado is deep on warm bodies who are likely to wear a big-league uniform and produce some kind of value. One or two of those new Orioles has a realistic chance of producing two wins or better annually and making enough noise to drown out the howls of a fanbase that’s losing its most talented player since Cal Ripken.

The collection of talent sent to Baltimore is headlined by 21-year-old Cuban OF Yusniel Diaz and 22-year-old righty Dean Kremer, the latter of whom had recently been promoted to Double-A. Up-and-down utility infielder Breyvic Valera, 21-year-old reliever Zach Pop, and 21-year-old breakout performer INF Rylan Bannon were also acquired in the deal.

Diaz, whom Kiley and I saw this weekend at the Futures Game, is a career .288 hitter who leaves behind a .314/.428/.477 slash line at Double-A Tulsa. Diaz homered twice on Sunday, once to right-center, once to left-center, and had one of the better batting-practice sessions on the World team.

For all that, Diaz hasn’t exhibited much over-the-fence power as a professional, even during his 165-game stay in the Cal League between 2016 and -17. He’s an all-fields line-drive hitter who keeps his hands inside the ball and peppers the right-center-field gap. He’s much more likely to display doubles power in games, which could cap his ceiling a bit, as the offensive bar in left field, where Diaz projects due to speed and arm-strength limitations, is quite high.

There are indications that Diaz might have the means to produce offensively despite a lack of big game power. He has more walks than strikeouts at Double-A this year and could be a premium contact/on-base hitter with gap power. He’s very likely to hit and therefore is very likely to be a big-league contributor, but he looks more like a solid-average regular than a potential star based on how he’s performed thus far. Industry opinion of Diaz’s power remains closer to our preseason assessment (where we put a future 45 on it) and doesn’t correspond with the display on Sunday. If that’s what Diaz is moving forward, our 45+ FV grade is going to be light.

Dean Kremer has pretty narrow range of likely outcomes, ranging from back-end starter to middle reliever. He has a four-pitch mix led by a fastball in the 92-95 range that will touch 97 at times, as well as solid-average overhand curveball. His slider and changeup are both fringey right now, but if Kremer can improve the change and better locate his fasball to his arm side as a way to set it up, then he’ll be fine as a rotation piece. If not, he doesn’t have much recourse against left-handed hitters and would probably be relegated to the bullpen. There’s also a possibility Kremer’s breaking-ball usage and command improve to a point where he can attack lefties without the changeup, the way pitchers like Patrick Corbin, Nick Pivetta, and Robbie Ray. This is a less typical developmental path, but it is becoming more common.

The rest of the players involved in the deal are likely to fill lesser big-league roles. Breyvic Valera was acquired from St. Louis as shortstop depth after the Corey Seager injury in exchange for OF Johan Mieses. He’s a 50 defender at short and can make contact but produces so little power that he’s limited to a bench role. RHP Zach Pop is a low-slot reliever who has a spotty injury history and a violent delivery. Assuming he stays healthy, he’s very likely to be a reliever with a mid-90s fastball and frisbee slider that causes right-handed hitters’ skin to crawl.

The piece in the deal with the largest error bar is 2B/3B Rylan Bannon, who has put up huge offensive numbers at two hitter-friendly locales since he was drafted out of Xavier in the eighth round of last year’s draft. He has some power generated, in part, by a big, exaggerated leg kick and a low hand load that enables him to lift the ball despite a flat-planed swing. He’s vulnerable up in the strike zone and has middling bat control, but as a decent defensive fit at either second or third, there’s a chance he hits for enough power to fit, perhaps part time, at either position. Scouts generally have him written up as a try-hard bench piece, but this is the guy whose stats and scouting report are most incongruous of the players acquired by Baltimore.

As far as Future Values go, Diaz is a 45+ for us right now and was only left off our recent top 131 due to his lack of power output in games, which is a concern for a likely left fielder. He projects as an average regular. Kremer, Pop, and Valera are all 40 FV players, with Kremer having the best chance to outpace that mark if he develops a way to deal with lefties. Pop and Valera are high-probability big leaguers almost certainly ticketed for lesser roles. Bannon is a 35+ FV as a likely org guy with a chance to transform a few niche attributes into something more than that.

We hoped you liked reading Scouting the Orioles’ Return for Manny Machado by Eric Longenhagen!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

newest oldest most voted
Dominikk85
Member
Dominikk85

I like they got some safe players but isn’t diaz lacking a bit of upside? No real weakness and k-bb rate is a plus but no real plus tool either offensively or defensively.

Sounds like if CF then average regular but at the corner he might be more of a 4th of due to lack of power.

jdbolick
Member

I agree that Diaz is a high floor, low to medium ceiling prospect. His open stance and the bail on his swing leads to a flat bat plane that limits his launch angle and power potential. His exaggerated weight transfer also means that he will struggle any time he’s fooled with off-speed pitches. I really like his eye and bat to ball skills, and it’s intriguing to wonder if he could access more power with some stance adjustments. I think he has enough arm to handle right field, but he certainly would be more exciting if he had the range for center.

jbigle1
Member
jbigle1

I’ll take a guy who can hit first. The orioles won’t have any problems fixing his swing to generate more power. Don’t read this scouting report as the gospel. Fangraphs had Juan Soto listed as a 50FV player as well. Diaz is a 45 FV at his floor, he could certainly be more.

Simmons2020
Member
Simmons2020

Soto was listed at a 50FV because he wasn’t expected to be close to the majors and had a high volatility score. Nobody ever questioned his ceiling.

jbigle1
Member
jbigle1

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2018-top-100-prospects/ Pretty sure that says MED on volatility. Colin Moran was given a 50 FV as well. I’m not sure his skills are all that different from Diaz.

ryanredsox
Member
ryanredsox

Seems like prospects with plus hit tools are seeing a jump in power numbers once they reach the MLB. Maybe (most likely not) he could have a Ramir├ęz or Albies type breakout.

Kevbot034
Member
Kevbot034

Is it stupid to think that the Orioles, who rely so much on homerun power and play in notoriously batter friendly park, just really imagine opening up his power more? Maybe a 20-25 HR guy?

CamdenWarehouse
Member
Member
CamdenWarehouse

Maybe this is completely naive, but I’m hoping this trade signals a shift in focus away from the low OBP, long ball hitter.

Kevbot034
Member
Kevbot034

I would prefer if all baseball went that, so fingers crossed over here.

Bonzi77
Member
Member
Bonzi77

I was pretty thrilled that 2 of the 3 bats they got back are low strikeout guys.