Aledmys Díaz Serrano
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 183 lb.
Aledmis Díaz debuted in the majors in 2016.
He debuted for the Naranjas de Villa Clara in 2007-2008 by going 9 for 32 in a utility role. At age 19 in 2008-2009, Aledmis hit .301/.403/.482 but fielded only .930 as a regular infielder. He was third in the Cuban Serie Nacional with 24 errors.
Díaz batted .282/.348/.363 and fielded .950 as Villa Clara's starting shortstop in 2009-2010. He tied for 5th in the Serie Nacional with 18 errors, having improved his defense. He was on the Cuban squad that won the Gold Medal in the 2010 World University Championship. He was 0 for 3 for the Cuban national team in the 2010 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament, backing up Yorbis Borroto at short; it was his only appearance for the national team in a major event. He batted .294/.437/.433 with 16 doubles in 85 games in 2010-2011, fielding .954 with only four errors in 54 games at SS, taking over for veteran Eduardo Paret and also fielding .949 in 37 games at 3B.
He hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 homers in 2011-2012 and fielded .975, with 9 errors, splitting time between shortstop and third base. It was his last season in Cuba. He was 1 for 6 with an error as a backup for Cuba int he 2012 Haarlem Baseball Week.
Diaz defected from Cuba in early 2013, but then was prevented by Major League Baseball from signing with a team because he presented fake birth documents, claiming he was born on January 8, 1990, in order to be exempt from the international guidelines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He was in fact younger than his claimed birthdate and thus subject to the amateur draft. The ban on signing expired on February 19, 2014, and on March 9th, the St. Louis Cardinals signed him to a four-year contract, with a clear indication that they were looking at him as their shortstop of the future, even though he was slated to begin his U.S. career in the minor leagues. He began his minor league career with the Springfield Cardinals and hit .291/.311/.453 in his first 34 games in the US. He also hit .227/.352/.409 in 13 games for the Palm Beach Cardinals.
He split 2015 between Springfield (.264/.324/.421 in 102 G) and the Memphis Redbirds (.380/.448/.620 in 14 G), with 28 doubles and 13 homers on the year. He played for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League and hit .315/.370/.616 with 17 runs in 20 games.
He made the Cardinals out of spring training in 2016. In their second game, against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 5th, he started at shortstop and hit 8th. He singled off Jon Niese in his first major league at-bat and came around to score on an error by Starling Marte. He struck out against Niese and grounded out against Arquimedes Caminero before leaving in a double switch, as Jedd Gyorko moved from 2B to SS and Kolten Wong came in at 2B, with Kevin Siegrist pitching and taking Díaz's spot in the batting order. He hit his first career home run on as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning on April 8th. The long ball, hit against of Eric O'Flaherty the Atlanta Braves broke a 4-4 tie and was one of a record three pinch homers by the Cards in that game; Jeremy Hazelbaker and Greg Garcia hit the others in the 7-4 win. He made the most of his opportunity to play early in the year, caused by veterans Jhonny Peralta and Ruben Tejada both starting the season on the disabled list, as when Tejada was ready to return on April 18th, he was hitting .406 and kept the starting job, at least for the time being. he continued to play well over the next several weeks, and when Peralta was ready to return on June 6th, the Cards decided to keep Diaz at shortstop and move the veteran to third base, with Matt Carpenter going to second and Kolten Wong heading to the minors. The fact that the team was willing to move three veterans to accommodate him spoke a lot about how much he had impressed. He was hitting .328 with 8 homers and 30 RBIs at that point. On July 7th, he was named to the All-Star team as a replacement for injured teammate Carpenter. On July 31st, however, he was hit on the hand by a fastball thrown by Andrew Cashner of the Miami Marlins and suffered a fractured right thumb. He was immediately placed on the disabled list. He was batting .312 at the time.
Growing up in Santa Clara, Villa Clara, he was a neighbor and good friend of future major league pitcher Jose Fernandez. The two were teammates on the National League squad at the 2016 All-Star Game after defecting from Cuba at different times. Needless to say, Diaz was devastated when Fernandez died tragically in a boating accident on September 25th of that season. Two days later, after visiting Jose's grieving family in Miami, FL, he played what he called "the most emotional game of [his] life" and in the 4th inning hit the first grand slam of his career in leading St. Louis to a 12-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He finished his rookie season at .300 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs and seemed to be on his way to manning the shortstop position for the Cardinals for many years, but he had a poor sophomore season in 2017. He slumped at the plate, hitting just .259 with 7 homers and 20 RBIs in 79 games and was sent down to the minors in mid-season. Meanwhile, his replacement, Paul DeJong, had a great rookie season, and Aledmys became an afterthought for the Cards. On December 1st, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor leaguer J.B. Woodman. Given that SS Troy Tulowitzki and 2B Devon Travis had both missed significant chunks of the previous two seasons with injuries, and that the Jays had non-tendered Ryan Goins, who had filled for both during that time, on the day of the trade, there was clearly an opportunity open for him to reclaim some playing time in 2018.
Diaz did indeed see a lot of action for the Jays in 2018, as he played 130 games and hit .263 with 18 homers and 55 RBIs. He was the regular at shortstop as Tulowitzki missed the entire season, and also filled in at third base for the injured Josh Donaldson while rookie Lourdes Gurriel was at shortstop. However, with Tulowitzki expected to be back the next year and Travis, Gurriel, Yangervis Solarte and top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. all vying for playing time in the infield, there was obviously a surplus of players at the position. On November 17th, hew was traded to the Houston Astros in return for pitcher Trent Thornton.
- NL All-Star (2016)
- Associated Press: "Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz has staying power", USA Today Sports, June 6, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Cardinals' Aledmys Diaz hits emotional grand slam, honors Jose Fernandez", USA Today Sports, September 28, 2016. 
- John Perrotto: "Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz has stunning impact on Cardinals", USA Today Sports, June 24, 2016.