Coming into the 2012 season hardly anyone had heard of Pedro Diaz. He was coming off of a season in the Dominican Summer League where he showed iffy control, but posted a strong ERA and limited hits working out of the bullpen as an 18-year-old. There was some buzz about him in spring training though as he showed off a strong arm.
The Reds assigned Diaz to the Arizona League Reds, where he would spend his entire 2012 season. He was in a new role as he was being used as a reliever. His first start of the year came on June 20th and he gave up 1 run on 3 hits in 3 innings without a walk and with 3 strikeouts. The next start was not so good as he again lasted three innings, but he gave up 11 hits and 7 runs without a walk and with 3 strikeouts. In his final start of the month he rebounded very well as he allowed just 1 hit in 5 innings without a walk and with 6 strikeouts. He finished the month with a 6.55 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 11 innings without giving up a walk and striking out 12 batters.
July was a strong month for the right hander. On the 6th he made his first start of the month and gave up his first home run of the season in a start where he allowed just one run in 3.2 innings pitched. He combined for 6.2 innings over his next two starts with just one earned run, 3 walks and 11 strikeouts. In his final two starts of the month he allowed 5 earned runs in 7 innings without a walk and 5 strikeouts. Overall Diaz finished the month with 17.1 innings pitched, a 3.64 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 4 walks and 17 strikeouts.
August was a step backward, perhaps due to some tiring as he pitched that deep into the season for the first time as a starter (let’s remember that he also pitched in extended spring training, so it wasn’t as if he just threw 28 innings and was tiring). His first two starts were good from an ERA standpoint, allowing just two runs in 7.2 combined innings, but he walked 5 batters and struck out just four. He had only four walks on the year entering the month. Over his next two starts he threw just 3.1 innings while giving up 11 runs on 11 hits and 4 walks with just two strikeouts. He would rebound well over the next two starts, allowing just 1 run over 6.1 innings with a walk and 8 strikeouts. He would finish August with a 7.27 ERA and 2.14 WHIP in 17.1 innings with 10 walks and 14 strikeouts.
Pedro Diaz had an interesting season. When he was bad, he was really bad. He gave up 29 earned runs all season and 18 of those runs came in 6.1 innings over three games (ERA of 25.59). His ERA in the rest of his games? 2.52. As a 19-year-old, some ups and downs are to be expected, but his were pretty dramatic. His overall numbers don’t look good on the surface. Diaz did post good peripherals though and his stuff is strong. He posted a .373 BABIP against in 2012 and that should be expected to regress more towards .300 for 2013. Diaz is a big time arm, but he needs to work on being more consistent as well as working deeper into games if he is going to remain a starting pitcher.