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Yainer Diaz

Catcher Yainer Diaz is ready to start for Astros

Yainer Diaz brings more pop to Astros' catcher's position

HOUSTON- Yainer Diaz was ready Saturday as the Astros opened the gates to Minute Maid Park for their annual FanFest. Houstonians and Astro fans lined up early outside on Saturday to meet Jim Crane’s club.

Players and alumni attended the event. Yainer Diaz greeted and signed autographs for fans for the first time as the starting catcher. Many fans clamored to see Diaz in the starting lineup late last season and in the postseason. Former manager Dusty Baker, it seemed, was the only one stopping Diaz from shining at times.  

Much to the chagrin of many fans, Baker started Martin Maldonado over the rookie Diaz last postseason. Baker and Maldonado are both gone now. Diaz is set to make his mark as the Astros’ primary catcher this season.

Yainer Diaz is ‘anxious’

“I’m very happy with the news,” Diaz said about starting behind the plate. “A little bit anxious and excited for the season to start.”

Diaz, 25, was phenomenal in his rookie campaign. He finished the 2023 season with a .282 batting average and .308 on-base percentage. Diaz collected 100 hits, 22 doubles, 23 home runs and 60 RBIs.


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His .538 slugging percentage led all Major League Baseball catchers with a minimum of 250 plate appearances last season. Defensively, Diaz caught 60 games. He threw out 15 of 35 base-stealers for a 30 percent caught stealing percentage. Diaz ranks first in MLB in arm strength (88.5 mph) and sixth in pop time to second base (1.90), according to statcast.

The native of Azua, Dominican Republic, has been busy this offseason. Yainer Diaz has worked on strength training and practicing different types of baseball drills on the field.

Maldonaldo is considered one of the best catchers at preparing his pitchers. He communicated and worked well with the Astros’ pitching staff, including ace Justin Verlander and lefty All-Star Framber Valdez.

Caratini set to mentor Diaz

Now, Diaz is prepared to take the next step and guide this year’s staff back to another postseason run.

“Just preparing physically,” Diaz said of his biggest goal in the offseason. “I’m prepared to catch a lot more games this year than I have in the past. … Just getting ready to learn all of our pitchers and getting ready to work with all those guys.” 

The Astros signed veteran catcher Victor Caratini during the 2023 Winter Meetings. The Puerto Rican catcher is well known for his defense. Caratini carried a six in Catching Framing Runs and a three in Fielding Run Value last season.  

Diaz struggled in framing. He finished with a negative five in Catching Framing Runs, which is poor-to-average in the 21st percentile. Caratini, 30, is set to back up Diaz. More importantly, the switch-hitting Caratini is expected to mentor Diaz through his first full season as the starting catcher.

“He has really good potential. He can hit. Everybody knows it,” Caratini said of Yainer Diaz. “He’s going to take this opportunity to play every day, and I’m happy for him.”

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