Indians king of exit velocity gets first homer

Díaz's first MLB homer not among hardest hit balls

Alex Hooper
September 04, 2018 - 11:59 pm
Cleveland Indians designated hitter Yandy Diaz (36) triples during the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) - The baseball gods finally smiled upon Indians exit velocity savant Yandy Díaz on Tuesday, granting the king of hard-hit balls with no payoff with his first round-tripper.

Díaz smacked a slider at the knees 386 feet to right center than just snuck over the wall. Boasting a career 92 mph EV (the Major League average is 87.3), the 26-year-old’s first career homer left at 99.8 mph.

It was the 57th-highest EV of his career, but the first one with enough loft to go over the wall through 244 plate appearances. Now the ball will hopefully head to Cuba to Díaz’s mother.

Because of its lack of explosion off of the bat, Díaz, who has 26 minor league homers to his name, did not expect the ball to get out.

“I thought it was a flyout to center, because I really didn’t make that good of contact, but the ball carried pretty well, so it got out,” he said through team interpreter Will Clements. “I think everybody knew that it was going to happen, someday it was going to happen. Today just happened to be that day.”

Díaz almost went yard his next time at-bat, spraying a ball off of the wall that bounced away from Jorge Bonifacio for a triple. Again, Díaz said he did not think he got all of it.

Naturally, the following question is whether or not the part-time player can replicate the success. The profile certainly exists, but history has not been on Díaz’s side thus far.

No stranger to growth, Tuesday starter Mike Clevinger was unsurprised both by the home run and the improvement taken to make it happen.

“We’ve been waiting on that. Especially with those biceps. I think everybody has,” the righty said. “He’s been hitting the ball, even in BP, 120 miles an hour in the air.

“Progressing. Getting through the ball better. Getting that lift, that backspin. It’s starting to come around for him.”

There is no expectation on the part of the hitter to completely overhaul his batted ball profile and become a slugger, despite the physique that would indicate otherwise. Díaz said that he knows the strength is there, but that he is more focused on growing as an overall hitter.

 “I’m still missing a few things, I still need to work on a few things on the hitting side,” he said. “But I think I can be the type of player who doesn’t hit a ton of home runs, but I could definitely hit some.”

For Manager Terry Francona, he is not worried about whether or not the ball leaves the yard at all, just that it keeps leaving Díaz’s bat at lightning speed.

“He’s going to grow into that,” the skipper said. “But when he barrels up balls and is spraying them all over the field, that’s good enough. He’s a strong kid and with maturity playing the game, he’ll learn how to do that.”