Cubs Acquire Diamond in the Rough
The Cubs were awarded a waiver claim today, acquiring 26-year old RHP Thomas Diamond from the Texas Rangers.
The 6'3 230 Diamond had been Designated for Assignment by Texas on Tuesday to make room on their 40-man roster for RHP Brandon McCarthy, who was reinstated from the 60-day DL. I would think the Cubs will probably option Diamond to either AA Tennessee or AAA Iowa, to Tennessee if they want Diamond to pitch past the end of the regular season (Tennessee has a good chance to make the Southern League playoffs) or to Iowa if they don't (Iowa's PCL playoff hopes are quickly fading to black). I doubt that we will be seeing Thomas Diamond at Wrigley Field in 2009.
Diamond was one of the Rangers players assigned to play in the Arizona Fall League post-2009, so it will interesting to see if the Cubs replace one of the pitchers they previously assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox (Andrew Cashner, John Gaub, Blake Parker, or James Russell) with Diamond, or if they ask Diamond to go to Latin America and pitch down there.
Diamond was the Rangers #1 pick (10th overall) in the 2004 Rule 4 Draft out of the University of New Orleans (he was Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year in '04). where he pitched for Cubs Assistant GM Randy Bush.back when Bush was the head baseball coach at UNO. He received a $2M+ signing bonus, and was rated by Baseball America as the the Rangers #1 prospect pre-2005, #3 pre-2006, and #4 pre-2007 (he led the Texas League in strikeouts in 2006), in addition to being rated a BA Top 100 MLB prospect in 2005 and 2006, before missing the 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery (TJS).
Diamond has struggled with his command throughout his career, but (at least prior to the elbow injury) he threw a 91-94 MPH fastball that touched 96, and an 83 MPH slider. He began the 2009 season at AAA Oklahoma City (PCL), but was very ineffective there (6.55 ERA), and got demoted back to AA Frisco (Texas League), where he has pitched so-so OK (3.63 ERA, 44.2 IP, 43 H, 3 HR, 37/50 BB/K, 254 OBA) while working exclusively out of the bullpen.
Diamond was added to the Rangers MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) post-2007, and accrued 61 days of MLB Service Time while spending a couple of months on the Rangers 60-day DL in 2008 while rehabbing from the TJS. He will have used-up two minor league options through the 2009 season and would appear to have just one left, but even if he uses his 3rd minor league option next season, he probably will be eligible for a 4th minor league option in 2011, presuming he did not get credit for a "full season" in 2008.
With the addition of Diamond, the Cubs 40-man roster now numbers 39, with one slot open.