The MIlwaukee Brewers’ farm system is full of talent, but no one is hitting quite like Isan Diaz.
Some fans were upset when Jean Segura achieved early success after being sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks. I’m sure some still are. But Isan Diaz, the star piece of the Milwaukee Brewers haul, has lived up to expectations.
Truthfully, Diaz didn’t get off to a good start this season, slashing .212/.287/.312 for a 79 wRC+ in April and May. But he was one of the youngest position players in the league, so his early struggles weren’t extremely surprising.
His youth has made his performance since June 1 all the more impressive, as Diaz has slashed .328/.424/.630 with 43 extra-base hits in that time. This includes 16 homers in 314 plate appearances for a 204 wRC+ (making him 104% better than league average since June 1).
To get a better idea of what those numbers mean, let’s compare him to his peers. We’ll take a look at how Diaz ranks, both in the Midwest League and in the Brewers farm system.
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Among the Midwest League’s 54 players with at least 300 plate appearances, Diaz is clearly the best power hitter. He leads the league in HR (19), and ISO (SLG minus BA, .218), while sitting at second in doubles (32) and SLG (.490), and third in OPS (.867). He also leads the league in walks (63) and plate appearances (523), is second in RBI (72), and third in both wRC+ (154) and wOBA (.398).
Diaz likewise stands out among Brewers minor leaguers, though comparing numbers across different leagues doesn’t come without challenges. Still, among 30 Milwaukee Brewers minor leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances, Diaz ranks first in SLG, OPS, HR, walks, doubles, and wRC+. He also leads the system in RBI.
So Diaz has pretty obviously been the best hitter in the system this season. He has also played the majority of his games at shortstop, one of the most demanding positions on the diamond. Scouts generally agree he’s bound for second base, but he clearly hasn’t let a tough defensive assignment affect his production.
But every frontrunner has a challenger, so who is Diaz’s closest competition for the Brewers MiLB Player of the Year? Definitely Kyle Wren, the only hitter who has had success similar to Diaz’s in more than 300 plate appearances.
Wren has hit well, with an .830 OPS in 424 PA on the year, though he plays differently than Diaz. Wren specializes in speed, making contact, and drawing walks, slashing .324/.414/.416 this season with just a pair of homers, but seven triples.
He has also been significantly better in Triple-A in 2016 than he was in Double-A, stealing 17 bags on 20 attempts, and slashing .346/.431/.442 over 273 PA. And while Wren looks ready for a shot at a Big League roster, I think he falls short of the Brewers’ award here.
Barring a meltdown, Diaz should still be far and away the organization’s best position player for 2016. And while some recent recipients of the award have struggled to build on their success (Taylor Green, Hunter Morris), Diaz has age and projectability on his side.