After every game covered, our writers submit player reports with observations from that game. The best reports are collected each week for this feature, where we will feature about a dozen players and the progress they’ve been making in the last week. This time around there was a lot of focus on Elias Diaz, who had a few good games in Indianapolis, and was so highly regarded that I even received glowing reports on him while covering games in Altoona. Below are the reports from our writers who covered games this week.
Nick Kingham (4/20 – 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 0 HR) – Not as sharp with fastball. Not the same two-seam movement as normal. Not his best stuff, but battled through five. Used the curveball and particularly the changeup more. Change was put away pitch several times and had the same arm action. Worked down in the zone and got in trouble more when working up. Pitched into deep counts, as he missed the zone on 38 pitches. Not pitch efficient because of that, tossed 49 pitches through two innings.
Tony Sanchez (4/20 – 0-for-4, 2 K) – Allowed two stolen bases on poor throws. First runner got a good jump, but the throw was not close. Missed on the third base side and the fielder was forced just to try to knock it down. Second throw was on the first base side, but missed badly also. Both got by the fielder into shallow center. Had a couple of balls bounce off his glove. One resulted in a wild pitch, that easily could have been a passed ball. Kingham’s work with the curve gave him several opportunities to block. Was strong there, particularly with movement into the right box.
Deibinson Romero (4/20 – 3-for-4, 2 HR) – Hit two home runs on completely different at bats. First at bat, he got his pitch early and jumped on it. Elevated, middle in pitch that he attacked for a home run to dead center. Second home run was on an eight pitch at bat. Fell behind in the count 1-and-2. Had to fight off several pitches before he got a pitch out over the plate and homered to left center field. Also made a strong play coming in on a swinging bunt from third. Made a bare handed play, and a strong throw coming in a long way to nip the runner at first.
Blake Wood (4/22 – 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) – Electric fastball in the mid 90s. Pitches downhill to make it look like he’s throwing even harder. Not afraid to come inside. Threw mostly fastballs. Attacks the hitters and comes right at them. Appears to have advantage in Indianapolis closer role. Has a high strikeout percentage among outs this season. Control will be the issue. Comes and goes at times and the walk totals creep up.
Elias Diaz (4/22 – 3-for-5, 2B, HR) – Three-hit game and was a triple from the cycle. Worked the counts and waited for his pitch. When he got something elevated, he did not miss. Two hits were going with the pitch the other way. Was very patient. Swung at only one of seven pitches in his second at bat. Fought off several offerings before getting a 3-2 fastball on the home run.
Elias Diaz (4/24 – 1-for-4, 2B) – Worked the count in his first three at bats, earning a 3-0, 2-0, and 2-1 counts in each. Worked to get an elevated pitch, just no hits to show for it. Robbed by a diving catch by a right fielder. Showcased his strong arm on multiple pick off attempts. Nearly caught a couple of runner off second too far, popping up after a low pitch. Also nailed a runner at third on a bunt attempt with a quick pop and a strong throw to third. Blocked and smothered a buried sinker for A.J. Morris on a strikeout to end the seventh.
Willy Garcia (4/19 – 3-for-4, 2B) – Garcia went 3-for-4 from the plate with all three hits being hit hard (including a double to the left center field gap). He also displayed his arm strength on an outfield assist to home when an Akron runner attempted to score from second on a single to left. Garcia made a perfect throw to the plate that beat the runner by ten steps. Garcia has one of the best arms from the outfield in the organization.
Elias Diaz – Spoke with an American League scout who said Diaz is his favorite player in the Pirates’ system. Said that his defense was better than top catching prospect Blake Swihart, and could envision Diaz hitting for a .250-.260 average with 10-12 homers a year in the majors.
Max Moroff (4/18-19 – 5-for-9) – Did a great job of using the opposite field and hitting the ball where it is pitched. The right-hander works middle-away. In previous years he would be too patient at the plate, and wouldn’t swing the bat at times until the count got full. He was much more aggressive early in the count during this series, swinging at either the first pitch, or one of the first three pitches in his at-bats. The result was 5-for-9 in a two-day span. Spoke with an AL scout who said Moroff grows on you. Nothing flashy and no plus tools, but he’s good across the board, and is “a baseball player.” Compared him to David Eckstein coming up through the minors.
Josh Bell (4/18-19 – 3-for-8) – Bell did a good job of using the opposite field at the plate, picking up three hits in these two games. He also displayed some good abilities at first base after working with Kevin Young over the weekend. He ranged well to his right on hard grounders, and did a nice job making picks in the dirt. His stance at first base when receiving balls looks closed off, with a crouch from the back of the bag at times, rather than a stretch from the side of the bag. This provides a disadvantage for close plays.
Chad Kuhl (4/18 – 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) – Kuhl doesn’t have a good slider, and lacked command in this outing. He was able to get out of a lot of jams, and didn’t give up any runs through five innings, but that kind of fortune won’t always be there on days when his command is off. He’s a two-seam guy who pitches to contact and generates a lot of ground balls, but he’s going to need a better out pitch in order to remain a starter in the future.
Zack Dodson (4/19 – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HR) – Worked mostly with his two-seam fastball, and did a good job of working inside to both sides of the plate, using the four seam fastball to pitch inside against right-handers. His curve wasn’t as sharp on this day, and he labored at times trying to put guys away in two strike counts, ending up with zero strikeouts on the afternoon.
Gift Ngoepe (4/18-19 – 1-for-8, 2B) – Showed a ton of range to both sides, making several plays on the second base side of the bag, or over the middle behind second base. Has a strong arm, and is very quick, with both tools shown by one play where he fielded the ball behind the second base bag, out-ran the runner to the bag, then threw to first in time to complete the 6-3 double play.