St. Louis Cardinals shortstop prospect Aledmys Diaz is back on the disabled list after landing there earlier this season with a shoulder problem.
The Cuban defector, who signed with the Redbirds in spring training and then slugged a hit in his first at-bat in a professional game, apparently re-injured the shoulder June 30 and hasn't played since.
The Cardinals dismissed Diaz's initial problem as a product of his lack of playing for more than a year while he waited to establish eligibility to sign with Major League Baseball. But it's more than a minor issue if it has continued to linger on for more than two months.
Diaz, who some scouts say projects to be a utility man or a second baseman instead of a shortstop, may be pushed further in that direction is his throwing arm is weakened by a shoulder issue.
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I wonder if the Cardinals were able to sign Diaz so cheaply because he had a pre-existing shoulder condition. I was shocked in March to hear the Birds landed Diaz for $8 million over four years when his peers were getting three or four times that amount. He threw well when I saw him play in spring training. So maybe there were concerns about his shoulder that made teams think he couldn't last at shortstop.
When he can get on the field, Diaz has performed very well. He's batting .291 with 8 doubles and 3 homers in 117 at-bats. And Class AA baseball is no cakewalk. There are a lot of good pitchers at that level with a whole lot more professional baseball under their belt's than the 6-foot-1, 190-pound infielder. Diaz has also stole six bases in eight tries.
There is no word about how long Diaz is expected to be out nor has specific information been released about the nature of the injury.
The Cardinals promoted Alex Mejia from High Class A Palm Beach to Class AA Springfield to fill the vacancy created by Diaz. It will be interesting to see how that logjam resolves itself if Diaz can get healthy and return soon.
The Cardinals last month took shortstop Pete Kozma, batting .229, off the 40-man roster which seems to indicate that he is no longer a priority. Greg Garcia, who has been up to St. Louis previously this season, also is playing shortstop in Memphis and carries a .245 batting average.
Garcia seems to project as a utility player if he makes it to MLB on a regular basis. So it's very possibly we'll see who takes the top spot in the organization's shortstop depth chart when Diaz comes back and either he or Mejia bumps up to Class AAA Memphis. Or... the movement to switch Diaz to second base could begin.