The Miami Marlins promoted infielder Derek Dietrich to the major league roster today, replacing the injured Chris Valaika. Dietrich is already in the starting lineup and has a clear shot at some playing time, making him a logical candidate to be Prospect of the Day.
Dietrich was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in 2007 but turned down Houston in order to play college baseball at Georgia Tech. He was quite successful in college, hitting .332/.410/.592 as a freshman, .311/.426/.511 as a sophomore, then .350/.459/.650 with 17 homers as a junior. He was rated as a possible first round pick but ended up going in the second round, drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays. His pro debut was reasonably successful with a .279/.340/.419 line in 45 games for Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League.
Sent to Bowling Green in the Midwest League for 2011, Dietrich hit .277/.346/.502 with 22 homers, 34 doubles, 38 walks, and 128 strikeouts in 480 at-bats. His power was unquestioned but his strike zone judgment needed some work, and most observers felt his range would work better at second or third base than at shortstop. Moved up to High-A Charlotte to begin 2012, he hit .282/.343/.468 with 10 homers in 98 games, followed by a .271/.324/.429 line in 34 games for Double-A Montgomery.
He was traded from Tampa Bay across the state to the Marlins this past winter for Yunel Escobar. He was off to a good start in 2013, hitting .282/.408/.505 in 103 at-bats for Double-A Jacksonville, with 16 walks and 23 strikeouts.
Dietrich is a 6-0, 200 pound left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born July 18, 1989. His best offensive attribute is power: he has unusually good home run potential for a middle infielder, enough power that his bat profiles well at third base. At times his power has worked against him, when he's tempted to lengthen his swing excessively. The strike zone gets away from him occasionally but he's worked hard to improve his discipline and has made progress in that department.
Dietrich's arm is quite good, but he lacks speed and his range is substandard; he hasn't played shortstop since leaving A-ball. His best position is probably third base, though he's been mainly a second baseman this year with adequate results. If he hits enough, the glove won't keep him out of the lineup.
Overall, the Marlins have nothing to lose by letting Dietrich play. Ups-and-downs should be anticipated and we'll have to see how his batting average and OBP play out. Although no one expects him to become a batting champion, he has enough sock in his bat to be a valuable hitter even if he's hitting just .250. In the long run, he could end up as something like a left-handed-hitting Dan Uggla.