Pirates notebook: Breakout of catching prospect Diaz a pleasant surprise
MILWAUKEE — Elias Diaz did not appear on Baseball America's top 10 list of Pirates' prospects in the spring. Baseball Prospectus has not authored a single word on him this season.
But one reason Tony Sanchez will log time at first base as the Triple-A season winds down is because of Diaz, a 23-year-old catcher who has improved his stock dramatically this season. Diaz was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis last week.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Diaz has been one of the Pirates' “brightest young prospects, development-wise” this season and added a number of teams asked about Diaz before the trade deadline.
Diaz has the potential to pass Sanchez on the organization's catching depth chart, which is noteworthy since Russell Martin is a free agent after the season.
Diaz always has been regarded as a strong defensive catcher since he signed out of Venezuela as an international free agent. Baseball America rated him as the best defensive catcher in the Double-A Eastern League this season. What has changed is his offense. Diaz hit .328 with nine home runs in 92 games with Double-A Altoona.
“All the defensive skills have showed up extremely well. … The arm, they all glow about. The accuracy (of the arm),” Hurdle said. “The bat has shown up as well. He's grinding out at-bats. He's hitting. He's been having at-bats like Russell Martin this year.
“I'm never surprised when players have success or when they pop. That's why you draft them. That's why you work with them. … He's a guy we'll have more conversation about over the winter.”
Another day off for Polanco
Rookie Gregory Polanco was held out of the starting lineup for a fourth straight game. Travis Snider made the start in right field.
Why has Polanco struggled? He might be tired. Dating to last October, Polanco has played in 178 games across various levels — winter ball, spring training, Triple-A and the majors — and has 682 at-bats.
“I played year round, played winter ball, then went into a season,” Hurdle said. “It doesn't matter if you're young. … I was anticipating a little bit of fatigue somewhere along the line just because it wasn't like he was playing three times a week (this winter). He won MVP and won the batting title.”
Hurdle believes the fatigue is showing up in Polanco's bat speed. He has struggled with elevated fastballs. The Pirates do have a date in mind to get Polanco back in the starting lineup.
Said Hurdle: “He's not in perpetual timeout.”
First-base platoon update
Pedro Alvarez made his second career start at first base Saturday. Hurdle said he wanted to go with power on power against right-handed Brewers starter Wily Peralta, whose fastball averages 95.4 mph. Alvarez is borrowing a first baseman's glove while he breaks in his own mitt, Hurdle said. Hurdle declined to say whose mitt he was borrowing.
For the second straight year, the Pirates organized a dads trip, where any of the Pirate players fathers were welcome to join the club on the trip to Milwaukee. Eighteen dads are with the club in Milwaukee. Last season, the dads went to Chicago.
“We had them in the same time the All-Stars were announced (last year), and a number of fathers who had sons that were All-Stars were there for that, which was really cool,” Hurdle said. “They are out on the field shagging. It's just a blast. These are the guys you've been connected to since you were 6 in the backyard.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates sign 2 to minor league deals
- Pirates trade Snider to Orioles for minor league pitcher
- For Pirates, NL Central test just got tougher
- Pirates officially sign Korean shortstop Kang
- Pirates shift times on 5 games, including rescheduling 2 fireworks nights
- Pirates notebook: Kang deal could be completed by Friday
- Pirates sign 9 to yearlong deals; 3 going to arbitration
- Pirates SS prospect Tucker making progress after thumb surgery