Margin Makers - analyzing Luis Basabe and Victor Diaz

The White Sox traded ace lefty Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for four prospects on Tuesday. I’m sure you knew that. You probably also know about the two headlining prospects in the deal – Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. If you don’t know much about them, you can get your fill here.

But as it’s said, trades are won at the margins. How the “other” two prospects fare could be the difference-maker in the value equation for this trade. Those other players – outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and RHP Victor Diaz – are not just throw-ins, with the former being a top ten name in Boston’s system and the latter being in the 20’s range.

The below reports were compiled combining information published by Baseball America, Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline, 2080 Ball, Sox Prospects and Baseball Prospectus. Any direct quotes are linked.

Luis Alexander Basabe

  • Outfielder, age 20 for 2017 season, 6′ and 160 pounds
  • Signed for $450,000 from Venezuela in 2012
  • Is the twin brother of Luis Alejandro Basabe, who was signed for an identical bonus, also by BOS
  • Ranked anywhere from 6th to 9th in the Red Sox system by the national publications

Basabe is a “toolsy” outfielder, which may cause an involuntary shiver from White Sox fans. But Basabe is not a Courtney Hawkins, or a Jared Mitchell, or even a Keenyn Walker. Basabe has plus speed (much faster than Hawkins, not as fast as Walker), and an above average to plus arm. He’s also got true plus raw power, despite his relatively modest frame, though the in-game results are currently showing only from the left side. But from the right side, at least according to Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, he’s got better bat control. He’s raw and challenged at the plate in terms of approach right now on both sides, which isn’t a surprise for his age and level.

Defensively, reports are pretty universal that he can be an every day center fielder, though he’s still got some rough spots in terms of routes at present. In terms of baserunning, Sox Prospects notes that he shows good instincts and has base-stealing potential, so he’s got more than just raw speed.


(video from SoxProspects.com)

In terms of performance, after 1.5 seasons in the DSL, Basabe went to short season ball (Gulf Coast League) halfway through 2014 as a 17-year old and held his own. In 2015 he went to the other Boston short season affiliate (New York Penn League) and saw a big jump in power numbers, though he only played in 56 games as he missed some time to minor injuries. In 2016 he hit the South Atlantic League and showed well in his first taste of full season ball: .264/.328/.452, 12 HR, 8.6% BB/PA, 25.1% K/PA, 25/30 SB/ATT in 110 games across both levels of A-ball (mostly the lower level).

That relatively high K-rate points at the questions around swing and miss in his game. But interestingly according to a report from Baseball America ($), it sounds as if he was getting struck out looking more often than is typical. As a byproduct perhaps of this patient approach, he shows the ability to work deep counts. Also important to note he was just 19 years old during the 2016 season, so he is still working on basic timing and footwork consistency. This will be the biggest area of development focus for the just-turned 20-year old. But reports from scouting types universally see a fair shot at being at least an average regular in the majors, and some decent chance of being more.

Victor Diaz

  • Right-handed Pitcher, age 22/23 for the 2017 season, 6’3″ and 190 pounds
  • Signed for $10,000 from Dominican Republic in 2014, at age 20
  • Ranked 21st to 28th or unranked in the Red Sox system from various publications

Diaz profiles similarly to a reliever already in the White Sox system – Robin Leyer. Both are hard-throwing Dominicans with good pitcher’s bodies that can hit 100 (a little higher in Diaz’ case) with the fastball but more typically sit mid- to upper-90’s. Both lack a consistent secondary offering, though both also have a slider that occasionally hints at above average character. Diaz’ career started a little later, but he also was missing a lot more bats in his SAL stint, and he has a splitter in his arsenal as well. Both have/had command issues at similar levels. No surprise that Leyer has been floating in and out of the back end of White Sox top 30 lists, and Diaz shows up similarly in a stronger Boston system. Sox Prospects also notes that Diaz has a fairly high-effort delivery with a head whip.

Our Brian Bilek recently interviewed Nick Hostetler, who is the Director of Amateur Scouting with the White Sox but he’s also involved on the pro side. As a sort of teaser for the full interview (which will be published in a few days), here is an exerpt of what he had to say on Diaz…

“This kid has a big, big arm. It’s a 100 MPH arm… Dan Fabian deserves a ton of credit on that young man as well because he just kept pounding Rick on including him in the deal… everyone who has [seen him] and everyone we heard from outside the organization was extremely positive about the upside and ceiling to this kid.”


(video from SoxProspects.com)

Diaz has a short career to look at statistically. He threw in the DSL as a 21-year old in 2015, 21 games in relief and had no trouble there. In 2016 he was with Greenville in the SAL at 22, missing plenty of bats (9.4 K/9) and throwing a reasonable amount of strikes (3.7 BB/9), but also getting hit a bit (9.7 H/9). He should open 2017 in Winston-Salem, most likely. He’s a lottery ticket, riding heavily on that fastball velocity and movement he has shown.

White Sox TV analyst Steve Stone recently stated on radio (no link, it’s radio) that he felt Diaz could potentially be a starter. That was tried with Leyer too, though it was really more about getting more innings to improve secondaries and command. The Sox could do something similar with Diaz, but indications are that a relief role is most likely in the long run.

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Filed under: News and notes

Tags: Luis Basabe, Victor Diaz

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