At 30 years old, Cincinnati Reds‘ rookie reliever Jose “Jumbo” Diaz has to feel like his ship has come in. Now the only question is whether or not the overweight-prone fireballer will eat his way off the ship.
Diaz toiled 12 seasons in the minors — including his last four at the Triple-A level — before finally making his major league debut this year. Since then, he’s thrown 23 innings, striking out 26 while recording a 2.74 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP.
Diaz features a high 90s four-seam fastball that has no movement but plenty of velocity. His low 90s slider breaks late and tight, giving him a similar complement of two power pitches to that of Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman.
As impressive as Diaz has been in his rookie season, the Reds will undoubtedly exercise caution until spring training before committing to Diaz as a back end of the bullpen reliever. If Diaz shows up weighing in at 350 pounds, the Reds won’t be counting on him for 2015. But if Diaz shows up at a svelte 275, he’ll be a roster lock and most likely the primary eighth inning man if the Reds can then deal current eighth-inning specialist Jonathan Broxton.
A fit and effective Diaz will go a long way to help the Reds reconfigure their bullpen while also allowing the team to continue to develop former collegiate closers — Tony Cingrani, Nick Howard and Michael Lorenzen — as big-league starters.
The Reds’ failure to fulfill expectations in 2014 will make their upcoming ofsseason an intriguing one, but one player who has exceeded expectations in such a way as to force the Reds to factor his presence into their 2015 season is the overpowering Diaz.