The Cincinnati Reds have the hardest throwing pitcher of all time with Aroldis Chapman on their roster, he of the 105.2 MPH fastball a few years ago. While Chapman is still the hardest thrower in the organization and top prospect Robert Stephenson probably takes the second spot, a career minor leaguer may be pushing himself into the conversation with some other relievers as the next hardest thrower on the list.
Jose Diaz, a 30-year-old right handed pitcher that has never spent a day in the Major Leagues, entered the game on Sunday afternoon for the Reds for his second appearance of the spring. Coming off of a strong season for the Triple-A Louisville Bats where he posted a 1.66 ERA in 54.1 innings, Diaz was not given much consideration by most as having a chance to make the roster. Of course that is with good reason as most players who are 29-years-old and have yet to make the Major Leagues, even for a cup of coffee, simply don’t ever get their cup of coffee.
The Dominican right hander may just be something different though. After a strong season in Triple-A he was invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee by the big league club that watched him dominate the year prior. Fast forward to Sunday and he throws a perfect inning of work and hits 98 MPH with a sinking fastball and all of a sudden if people weren’t talking about him, maybe now they will be. While velocity has jumped in the Major Leagues over the past few seasons, 98 MPH is still elite velocity that doesn’t grow on trees.
For the inning the Diaz pitched on Sunday, his fastball averaged 94.3 MPH according to Pitch F/X data (the data used in the MLB Gameday App). The pitch showed strong velocity and perhaps even more impressive, it averaged more than 12 inches of horizontal movement on it while also showing good sinking action.
In the minor leagues Diaz has struggled with his control for his career and in 2013 he did walk 21 batters in his 54.1 innings pitched, but if he can show some control he is exhibiting the kind of arm that can be a difference maker.