July 8, 2012

We’ve been talking a lot about the Akron franchise a lot lately, and for good reason as they’ve been a staple of the Cleveland Indians farm system and in northeast Ohio.

The 2012 version of the Akron Aeros went on to win the Eastern League title for a various number of reasons, mostly pitching.

But on July 8, 2012, the Aeros beat the Bowie Baysox 11-8 on 14 hits. They scored nine of their 11 runs in the first four innings.

Chun Chen doubled in a run in the first and Juan Diaz singled in another. Tyler Holt doubled in a run in the second inning. Diaz doubled in two runs in the third and then also hit a grand slam in the fourth inning.

In just four innings, Diaz drove in eight runs and accounted for nine of Akron’s 11 runs in the win, going an even 4-4 while working a walk in his fifth at bat. The Aeros beat up on Bobby Bundy, Dylan’s brother, to the tune of five runs.

Preston Guilmet was the only pitcher in the game not to allow any runs.

Diaz’s eight RBI might have been the highlight of his offensive career. He was acquired by the Indians in 2010 from the Mariners in the Russell Branyan trade. This wasn’t one of the trades the Indians made with the Mariners that swindled them for another productive big leaguer, though it did also net Ezequiel Carrera, so maybe it did.

At 6’4, Diaz was pretty large for shortstop but had unusually good range and movements for his size. His strongest asset was his arm, that was double-plus. His arm was so good that it almost seemed kind of shocking that the Indians never moved him to the mound after it was clear when he wasn’t the shortstop of the future.

In 2016, the Pirates did put Diaz on the mound for four innings He walked three and struck out two and allowed a run. Despite only being 31, Diaz hasn’t played in affiliated ball since. I’m not sure what happened, but he would have been a more interesting player in 2020 with an arm to look at on the mound, a solid defender at shortstop and some pop. Maybe he’ll pop up again soon.

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