While Elias Diaz has been solid on both ends of the game for the past two seasons, he will be the first to admit that he is still looking to polish his game at the plate on the offensive end.
Even despite this, Diaz had a solid month of May after a so-so April. In April, Diaz picked up hits in nine of 17 games for the month. However, coming into Thursday, he was hitting .308 with hits in 19 games in May.
In addition, his OPS went from .559 in April to .782 in May. As for the success, Diaz looks to trying to be consistent and trusting his preparation.
“I am trusting the process and staying with the plan the whole time no matter what,” Diaz said. “I just try to get better every day and every night.”
With this work, Diaz has earned the confidence of Indianapolis hitting coach Butch Wynegar.
“If I had to go on the record today, I am going to say that this kid is a big league catcher,” Wynegar said. “He is going to be in the big leagues soon. Maybe not this year, but he has all of the tools to be a good hitter and a good big league catcher.”
However, Wynegar admitted that Diaz does have some work to do yet on the offensive end.
“He’s 24, but he’s still a little bit young hitting,” Wynegar said. “I don’t mean that as a bad thing. What I mean is that he struggles yet to control himself at the plate. I’m big on stop trying to do more and think about doing less. Your legs are really important on your swing. When he stays on his legs to swing, he’s good. Then he’ll jump out at the ball and come off his legs and get himself out.”
According to Diaz, there is no issue with pitch recognition. When he jumps out at the ball, it is completely fundamental.
“We have been working on staying balanced and drive the ball middle away,” Diaz said. “That is the key for me, staying balanced in my legs and stay behind the ball. I have good pitch recognition with the breaking ball and change ups.”
Diaz also mentioned that he does not let the catching situation and mixing playing time with Tony Sanchez affect him because it is out of his control. He said that he just has to keep his focus and stay ready when his number is called.
Wynegar said that the success will come when Diaz is able to slow the game down when he is at the plate. He also said that he expects “terrific power” at the next level from Diaz.
Wynegar also said that he would be very surprised if Diaz doesn’t play in the big leagues for 10-plus years.
Outside of an injury to Francisco Cervelli, Diaz will have a hard time being anything more than a September call-up at absolute best this season, but he is still making large strides nonetheless. The Pirates have high hopes in Diaz with both his hitting and defense. This is something that the catcher knows and he works each day to live up to that hype.