Robinzon Diaz… Not Your Typical Catcher

Robinzon Diaz is not your typical catcher. The Dominican, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2000, came into the 2008 season with a .305 career minor league average in six seasons. But he also had a slugging percentage of .388.

Diaz is similar to Vladimir Guerrero, in the sense that he is a bad-ball hitter that can make contact with just about any pitch. Last season at Double-A, the right-handed batter struck out 16 times in 301 at-bats (but also walked only 11 times). In 1,978 career at-bats, he has walked 98 times and struck out 155 times (which Adam Dunn could only dream of for a single season total).

Diaz has done nothing but hit in the minors, but he has moved slowly through the system due to less-than-impressive defensive skills. Although he is extremely athletic for a catcher, and the organization considered converting him to third or second base, Diaz struggled with game calling and receiving.

The young catcher, who is 24, has improved by leaps and bounds in the last year, though, according to the Jays organization. As such, he was promoted to the majors for the first time in his career when the organization released designated hitter Frank Thomas last week. Diaz was batting .368/.390/.553 at Triple-A. He also ended 2007 at Syracuse and batted .338/.358/.431 in 65 at-bats before an injury caused him to miss a September call-up.

One other interesting knock on Diaz throughout his career is that he tended to take it easy and never really gave his all. People have said that he is a good player, who could be a very good player if he dedicated himself to the game on an everyday basis. As a result, Diaz could end up being a lot like Florida’s Hanley Ramirez, who has posted much better numbers on the center stage that is Major League Baseball, than he ever did in the minors.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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