ESPNBoston.com and its high school section today announce that Isan Diaz, senior shortstop of the Springfield Central High School Golden Eagles, is the recipient of its fourth annual "Mr. Baseball" award, presented to the top overall player in the state of Massachusetts.
The Mr. Baseball Award was chosen by a panel of ESPNBoston.com staff and correspondents. Diaz will be presented with the Mr. Baseball Award at a date to be determined later. He joins Lawrence Academy's Tyler Beede (2011), Lowell's Matt Tulley (2012) and St. John’s Prep’s Brandon Bingel (2013) among recipients in the award's four-year history.
"We are proud and honored to present Isan Diaz with this year’s Mr. Baseball Award," said ESPNBoston.com High Schools Editor Brendan C. Hall, who coordinates the site’s baseball coverage. "Isan was one of several players across the Massachusetts high school baseball landscape who came into the spring with a mound of hype to live up to, and he more than delivered. Anchoring one of the state’s best middle infields, he always put on a show."
The 6-foot, 170-pound Diaz was named to ESPN Boston’s All-State Team a year ago as a junior, and came into this spring hyped as one of New England’s top high school prospects. He delivered again this spring with some impressive defensive plays and strong batting. At the plate, hitting primarily at the top of the Golden Eagles’ order, Diaz registered .492/.625/.898 totals, with four home runs and 14 RBI.
After a tough start to the season, the Eagles got hot in the second half of the regular season, earning the No. 3 overall seed in Division 1 West. Central bowed out in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
"In my time covering high school baseball at ESPN Boston, Isan is the most naturally-gifted defensive player I’ve seen," Hall said. "It was a joy watching him make some of the most difficult plays in the field look so effortless. And considering that, for all of his defensive prowess, his bat is generally considered his most valuable tool, that should tell you a lot about what a special player he is."
Earlier this month, Diaz was selected 70th overall, a Competitive Balance Round B pick, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was the first of seven high school players in Massachusetts to be taken in the draft, the most in a single draft since 2003, and was the highest selection for a Massachusetts high school player since Beede went 21st overall to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.
After initially committing to Vanderbilt University last fall, Diaz instead has spurned his pledge to the Commodores, and signed a professional contract with the Diamondbacks reportedly worth $750,000. He is the first Mr. Baseball winner to sign out of high school.