JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — After spending years trying to find a quality shortstop, the St. Louis Cardinals now appear to have an excess.
The Cardinals introduced their newest acquisition, Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, on Monday. Within the organization, some have compared him to a young Derek Jeter.
"He walks like him you can see some of that there," St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said.
Diaz liked to heard that.
"He thinks Derek Jeter is definitely the model ballplayer that everyone should look up to, that he looked up to in the opportunities that he had in Cuba to watch baseball games," said translator Moise Rodriguez, a team employee. "He's a world-renowned baseball player that comes across as somebody that's a leader and somebody that everybody should try to be like."
The Cardinals signed Diaz to a four-year deal over the weekend only months after signing current shortstop Jhonny Peralta, a two-time All-Star, to a free agent contract of the same length.
Having Peralta will allow the Cardinals to take their time with the 23-year-old Diaz, who will begin this season in the minor leagues and likely be given a chance to learn multiple infield positions.
"We plan on being patient with him," Mozeliak said. "He hasn't played baseball in, really, over a year and a half competitively. It's not something where we're looking to have him put his fingerprints on the major league team tomorrow. We can give him time to develop and let him, from a talent standpoint, take his time to get back to where he was."
Diaz defected from Cuba to Mexico in 2012. The Cardinals scouted Diaz in Mexico and worked him out earlier this spring at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.