The Miami Marlins rookie was only six at-bats into his major league career when the message that will likely follow him throughout his career flashed below his name and mugshot on the Citi Field video board.
Lewis Brinson was also part of the return in that deal. The 25-year-old outfielder was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans alongside Diaz on Monday after a rocky start to his major league career last year and the early part of this season.
Monte Harrison, the fourth piece in the deal, is held up on the injured list in New Orleans after undergoing wrist surgery on July 19. He was expected to miss four to six weeks.
Getting three of the four prospects to the majors is itself an accomplishment. It’s not one that will yet turn that trade into a winner for Miami, but it is a step in the right direction.
“It's like one of those things where people will write you off. That's what people do for a living,” Yamamoto told Yahoo Sports. “To see the success of Isan and Brinson to the point where they're up here now, it's a great feeling for all of us.
“For the most part, we're just waiting on all four of us to be up here so we can write those haters off.”
In 251 games with the Brewers, Yelich has accounted for 13.7 WAR, 75 homers and 194 RBIs. He’s working on another MVP season, entering Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates batting .336 with 39 homers, 23 stolen bases, all three of which are career highs, and 84 RBIs.
When the trade occurred last January, the idea that the Marlins could match Yelich’s production already seemed to be a tall task. Considering what Yelich has done in the 15 months since he was traded, it’s now a fool’s errand.
“Obviously, Yelich is a great player. Obviously having an MVP-caliber season again,” Brinson said. “We're over here, and we're our own people. You can't worry about what everybody else is doing.”
It’s entirely too early to judge whether the Marlins can make a winner out of this deal. The trio currently on the roster have played a combined 40 games at the major league level. But all three players have flashed something worth looking forward to.
Diaz famously homered off Jacob deGrom for his first hit in his first game in the majors — a moment which veteran Martin Prado said cemented Diaz’s status as a big leaguer. He left New Orleans batting .305 with 26 homers and a .937 OPS.
More than his production, Brinson made note of the excitement that Diaz can provide a fan base that needs it. Diaz’s self-assessment wasn’t very different.
“I want to say I'm an exciting guy. A lot of energy and always ready to go,” he said.
Brinson seemed to straighten things out in New Orleans after batting .197 to open the season in Miami. He compiled 35 extra-base hits, including 16 homers, and 56 RBI in 81 games in the Pacific Coast League.
Now two years since his major league debut, Brinson felt he needed to do some soul searching during his latest stint in the minor leagues.
“I had to kind of work on myself, and find myself a little bit and tell myself that when you get back, you belong,” Brinson said. “And you're going to stay there. And you're going to be one of the best players in the league. I had to tell myself that everyday.”
Yamamoto caught on quick in the majors, allowing just four total runs over his first four starts. He’s struggled in the past three outings, however, yielding 15 runs over a 14-inning span, but there’s still enough there to suspect that he might be a productive big league starter.
“It's been a rollercoaster,” Yamamoto said. “But at the same time, you got to keep yourself grounded and know why you're here and what you have to do to stay here.”
Harrison was batting .284 with nine homers and 20 stolen bases before going down with the injury.
Is it reasonable to expect any of these players to produce around a 7.0 WAR in a given season? Absolutely not.
But these four have the tools to help the Marlins eventually do what’s most important — win games.
“It's definitely an honor for the Marlins to really kind of take a leap of faith on us and say that we want you guys to be a part of our future,” Yamamoto said. “It's kind of a big deal to me, and I think that it's very important to me. It's just one of those things that I will not take lightly, and just keep going.”
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