Yandy Díaz Fernandez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 185 lb.
Infielder Yandy Díaz made his major league debut on Opening Day, starting at third base for the Cleveland Indians against the Texas Rangers on April 3, 2017. He went 1 for 4 with a double and a run scored. He got the start because of an injury to 2B Jason Kipnis that prompted the Indians to move 3B José Ramírez to 2B, opening a spot in the starting lineup for Yandy.
Yandy started his career in his native Cuba in 2008-09 when he played 5 games for Villa Clara at age 16. He saw significant action for the same team the next two years, playing 67 and 59 games respectively and hitting .292 and .254. At that point, like a lot of other talented Cuban players of his generation, he chose to defect. However, things did not go as smoothly for him as for others, who were playing professional baseball in North America within a year of leaving the island. It took him until September 20, 2013 to sign a first professional contract with the Indians.
He therefore missed three seasons of action at an age when ballplayers are undergoing important development. He returned to action in 2014 with the Carolina Mudcats of the Carolina League and did quite well, hitting .286 in 76 games. He then continued his progression over the next two seasons, with 136 games of hitting .309 mainly in AA in 2015. In 2016, he was with the AAA Columbus Clippers for the bulk of the year and hit .318 in 121 games, while playing for the World Team in the 2016 Futures Game. During his three seasons in the minors, he split his time between third base, second base and the outfield. He continued to do well in winter ball, with a .371 average in 40 games for the Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan League in 2016-17, paving the way for his making the Indians' roster at the start of 2017. He was sent down to the minors in early May when he was hitting .203, then returned in late August and did better the rest of the way, finishing the year at .263 in 49 games. In 2018, he played 39 games in the majors and batted .312, also hitting his first big league homer. He also played one game in the Division Series against the Houston Astros, going 1 for 3 with a double. During those two seasons, he spent the majority of his time in the minors hitting a scorching .350 in 85 games for Columbus in 2017, and .293 in 98 games in 2018.
On December 13, 2018, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays alongside Cole Sulser in return for 1B Jake Bauers. He started the 2019 season as the Rays' starting first baseman and hit .308 with 3 doubles and 3 homers over his first 10 games. He was hitting .270 with 14 homers 38 RBIs in 78 games when his season was interrupted by an injury on July 22nd, putting him out of action for almost the entire rest of the season. He only came back in time to go 0-for-3 as the Rays' DH on September 29th, but on October 2nd, he was the hero of Tampa Bay's win over the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card Game, leading off the game with a homer off Sean Manaea, and then chasing him from the game with another homer in the 3rd. The Rays won the game, 5-1, to move on to the Division Series.
- Mike Petriello: "Yandy on verge of stardom for surging Rays", mlb.com, April 9, 2019.