Once an elite strikeout pitcher, when Diamond reached double-A his development seemingly stagnated. Since then his strikeout rates have remained strong, but better hitters were more patient hitters--he consistently allowed too many base runners. He's been working on his command issues for a long time, as he first reached double-A late in 2006.
Diamond did pitch 29 innings for the Cubs last season, striking out 36 but walking 18 and allowing 33 hits en route to a 6.83 ERA. His time came in 3 starts and 13 relief appearances, but considering what we've just said his call up was warranted as for the first time in all his opportunities at triple-A he seemed to put it together. The walk rates were acceptable if still a little high, his strikeout rates were decent, and hits were down. He'd finish his 2010 season with the triple-A Iowa Cubs sporting a 3.16 ERA, including 104 strikeouts in 108.1 innings. It was like he'd found his form.
But this season hasn't gone so well. He was back in triple-A at age 28, and while he was still striking out batters in waves (46 strikeouts in 44.2 innings) he just couldn't keep the bases clear. Diamond has averaged more than two base runners per inning this season.
Diamond is clearly a reclamation/depth signing, but there might be a little bit of upside here-provided the Twins can fix whatever mechanism is keeping him from having any semblence of command. His right-handed arm brings a 90mph fastball to the table, along with a slider, occasional curve and a pretty good changeup.
I don't want to say that the '04 draft was a bust for the Twins, but it certainly hasn't produced the players they hoped it would. Trevor Plouffe has some pop in his bat and a strong arm, but has trouble with accuracy and is mired in triple-A. Kyle Waldrop, in spite of his ability to induce ground balls and posting of decent numbers, is still in triple-A. Matt Fox is having his best season ever...in triple-A, and in Boston. Jay Rainville had to retire. Only Glen Perkins is providing the team with any real value right now, and even that has been suspect in the past as only this year has he seemingly found his niche.
Those are a lot of first-round draft picks, and not a lot of first-round value.
Seven years on from the '04 draft, the Twins are now on their second recycled first-rounder from another team. Can this be the Daimond in the rough they have been looking for? He may have bullpen potential if the Twins can put him together.