November 30, 2015 at 7:00 AM
This week, we recap the next six players in the season-end Top 40, going from 28 to 23. All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.
Dayan Diaz, RHP
2015 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pawtucket Red Sox
Final Stats: 72 ⅔ IP, 1.73 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 66 K, 31 BB
2015 Peak Ranking: 24 (Current, post-trade)
12:26 PM UPDATE: Diaz has signed with Cincinnati as a minor league free agent.
Season in Review: Diaz returned to Portland for the start of the 2015 season after a successful 11-game stint with the Sea Dogs at the end of 2014. He quickly proved he was ready for the next step, allowing only two runs over his first 15 2/3 innings, striking out 17 and walking only two. He was bumped up to Pawtucket on May 11, where he got off to a bit of a rocky start, pitching to a 4.60 ERA over his first seven appearances.
Diaz was able to put that rough stretch behind him, and over the next month, he did not allow an earned run. From June 13 to July 25, Diaz tossed 24 1/3 scoreless innings over 11 appearances, walking eight and striking out 22. He missed some time at the end of August with a right elbow strain, but he came back to make three appearances for the PawSox in September, and he has pitched well this fall for Lara in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. - Jim Crowell
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Diaz is an undersized right-handed pitcher listed at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds and will be entering his age-27 season. Diaz has shown the raw stuff to pitch out of the back-end of a bullpen, featuring a potentially above-average fastball-slider combination. Diaz has an athletic frame with a quick arm and short arm action in back, allowing Diaz to hide the ball well in his delivery. For this reason, he induces a lot of late swings with the fastball as hitters have a tough time picking the ball up. The fastball ranges from 92-96 mph, sitting 95-96 mph in shorter stints with some arm-side run. The slider is 82-84 mph with sharp two-plane break and bat-missing ability.
The few times I've seen Diaz, he has impressed with the fastball-slider combination in short stints. During Diaz's time in Portland and Pawtucket in 2015, he was more often than not called on to pitch in multiple-inning stints. When Diaz was called on for those additional innings, the fastball and slider would begin to flatten out and the fastball tended to lose some life, in addition to his overall control suffering. Diaz is currently a minor-league free agent and should begin the year with an organization's Triple-A team as solid organizational depth. If the Red Sox bring him back, I would like to see them stick with Diaz in one-inning stints where he has had the most success, consistency, and shown the ability to provide potential value in the back-end of a bullpen. - Chaz Fiorino
Edwin Escobar, LHP
2015 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox; Greenville Drive (rehab)
Final Stats: 50 ⅔ IP, 4.97 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 24K, 25 BB
2015 Peak Ranking: 14 (April)
Season in Review: 2014
2015 SoxProspects Pre-Season All-Stars
Dunne: System Restart, Upper Level Pitchers
Season in Review: Before the 2015 season began, it was reported that Escobar was going to be moved exclusively to a relief role after starting throughout his minor league career. That was put on hold, however, as Escobar was sidelined with left elbow inflammation on April 5. He did not debut until a June 9 rehab appearance in Greenville, where he tossed one scoreless inning. He made his first appearance with Pawtucket on June 12, but it was quickly evident that he was not himself. Over his first 8 2/3 innings, his ERA sat at 12.46 and he was allowing almost two hits per inning. He settled into his relief role, and over his next eight innings, he allowed three runs on six hits.
On August 3, Escobar returned to the starting rotation after Brian Johnson was placed on the disabled list and Henry Owens was called up to Boston. Over his final seven appearances of the season, Escobar made six starts, going 3-2 with a 3.55 ERA over 33 innings, walking 17, striking out 15, and surrendering five home runs. He is now playing for Lara in Venezuela, where he has been starting games, but has not exactly excelled so far. - Jim Crowell
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Escobar will turn 24 in April after what was essentially a lost year of development in 2015. When healthy, the left-handed pitcher has shown the ability to throw three average-grade offerings with control of the fastball, curveball, and slider mix. The fastball sits in the range of 89-94 mph with sink when down, and Escobar has shown ability to command to both sides of the plate with it when healthy. The curveball is 75-78 mph with average-grade slurvy action. He's shown the confidence to throw it to both right-handed and left-handed hitters as well as double-up on the offering. The changeup is 82-85 mph thrown with solid arm speed, and he has also shown the ability and confidence to throw it in any count. Escobar could profile best as a left-handed reliever if he can return to form and continue to demonstrate his three offerings with the average command and control that he's shown previously. Escobar is out of options and will have to make the major league roster out of spring training, or else the organization could choose to designate Escobar for assignment in hopes of trading or passing him through waivers. - Chaz Fiorino
Photo Credit: Kelly O'Connor