The St. Louis Cardinals began the 2016 season by losing starting shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a broken thumb but little did they know a ready-made replacement was waiting to take off in the form of infield prospect Aledmys Diaz. Not even the Cardinals could have anticipated how Diaz would seamlessly transition to major leagues, both in the field and at the dish in a Rookie of the Year-worthy campaign. Diaz came out of the gates in March/April absolutely scorching with the stick as he hit a ridiculous .423 with 4 home runs and 18 RBI and never really let up the rest of the way (September/October was only month he didn’t bat at least .275). For the season as a whole, Diaz cracked 17 home runs, collected 64 RBI, and batted an even .300. What allowed Diaz to perform as well as he did offensively was the fact he was as good as a rookie could be in terms of striking out (just a 13.0 K/9) and also drawing walks (8.9 BB/9). That is a combination which will allow any hitter to bat .300 in their sleep and so Diaz was no fluke in the average category. As far as the rest of the numbers are concerned, Diaz doesn’t run much (4 steals total) which is a negative in the middle infield but 20 home runs is very much in play to offset that. While Diaz won’t ever win you a league, he certainly can be a terrific plug-in and-never-look-back fantasy baseball shortstop.
2017 PROJECTION: .302 19 HR 70 RBI 77 R 5 SB