SoxProspects News

April 25, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Notes from the Field: Roniel Raudes and Jhonathan Diaz


At the end of March, the SoxProspects Staff made their annual trip to Minor League Spring Training. Over the next few weeks their notes and observations will be featured on SoxProspects News. Here is the seventh feature from Spring Training highlighting two more intriguing Red Sox starting pitching prospects.


Roniel Raudes threw five innings in the High-A Salem game facing Rays minor leaguers. It was one of the standout performances of the trip for me, as Raudes struck out six hitters, elicited 11 swinging strikes, and missed bats with all four pitches.

The undersized right-hander is listed at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds. I suspect he’s a bit heavier and stronger than listed, and given that he is still just 20 years old, there’s still some physical projection. Raudes’ delivery immediately stands out—he will often crouch down and swirl his hands around his head in a circular motion pre-wind-up. Surprisingly enough, it does create some deception and seems to disrupt the timing of hitters. He doesn’t do it every pitch, and will other times just go straight into his delivery, so hitters are left wondering whether he’s going to do it or not, disrupting their timing and concentration with his varying looks and times to the plate. 

Raudes mostly sat 90-92 mph with the fastball, which was a tick up from the 88-90 we’ve seen from him in the past. The pitch is fairly straight, but he commanded well to both sides of the plate. Most notably against 2017 first-round pick Brendan McKay, in a 3-2 count, Raudes perfectly located a fastball down and in to his glove-side, eliciting a strikeout. However, later that inning, Raudes made a mistake on a 3-2 fastball at 88 mph he left up in the zone that got belted for a home run.

Raudes threw a healthy mix of secondaries (slider 80-84 mph, curveball 72-75 mph, change-up 79-84 mph) showing the ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes. He elicited at least one swinging strike with each. The shape and consistency of the pitches varied, and I wouldn’t necessarily project anything as plus down the road. However, average grades across the board on all four pitches with advanced command and control from a 20-year-old make Raudes an easy top 15 prospect in the current system.

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21-year-old, left-hander Jhonathan Diaz threw in a backfield simulated game on March 25. Signed for $600,000 out of Venezuela in 2013, Diaz opened 2018 in the Greenville rotation. 

Listed at 6-feet, 170 pounds, Diaz is a bit undersized and seemingly filled out throughout. Diaz has an athletic, compact, methodical delivery. He stays closed off in his delivery, showing his back to the hitter, and repeated it well. 

Diaz threw strikes with a four-pitch mix. There was no stand-out offering, but he showed an advanced feel for four average-grade pitches he can throw in any count. The fastball was 88-91 mph with some sinking action. He also featured a curveball at 73-75 mph with big, 1-to-7 break, a slider at 79-80 mph, and a changeup at 79-82 mph that showed fade away from right-handed hitters. 

Diaz doesn’t project to miss many bats in the upper levels, but is certainly a guy that could find lots of success in the lower minors with his ability to mix four average-grade pitches for strikes in any count. 

Photo credit: Roniel Raudes and Jhonathan Diaz by Kelly O'Connor.

Chaz Fiorino is Assistant Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @cbfiorino.

 
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