With my 3rd round pick (I picked 11th in the snake draft, so this was pick #71), I selected 22-year-old short stop Raul “Bump” Diaz, a Venezuelan prospect that, in my eyes, showed a lot of upside, 2-3 years in the future. When drafted, he was scouted as a 52, with a potential rating of 69 (reminder that these ratings are out of 80). He projected to have elite contact ability at the plate, with above average gap power, average overall power, and while he wouldn’t walk a lot, he also wouldn’t strike out a lot, so he should get on base at a high clip. Combine that with his good wheels and solid range at short, I thought we had a prospect that showed significant upside, 1-3 years in the future. And, while I knew he could be serviceable as a young starter in 2020, I drafted Diaz banking on All-Star-level play in the future. Raul had other plans.
He started the year off hot, extending a 22-game hitting streak into the first days of May. He entered the game in which his streak ended hitting .362, to go along 5 doubles, 3 home runs and 13 RBIs.
According to Baseball Reference’s Play Index, not since 1934 has a rookie produced a season like Diaz’s. In 615 at bats, Raul hit .333 with 205 hits, 44 doubles, 5 triples, 15 home runs and scored 111 runs. That resulted in 5.6 WAR. Check out his real-life company, the only 3 players to have 200 hits, with at least 40 of them doubles, and an average of .330 or above in their rookie season:
One interesting tidbit. All 4 of these players had at least 17 errors in their rookie years (the most was 22 by Trosky – Diaz had 20).
Only one other time in history has Raul’s stat line been matched (149 games or less, 200+ hits, 40+ doubles, .330+ average) at a younger age (A-Rod in 1996 – who would have been in the list above had he not been a rookie at age 19). And every other time it was matched, regardless of age, it was done by a very noteworthy player. If you can be on a list that includes Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby and Shoeless Joe, you’re likely in OK company.