Elias Diaz Named Best Defensive Catcher in Minors by Baseball America

Baseball America announced their Captain’s Catcher award today, given out to the best defensive catcher in all of the minors and Elias Diaz is the 2015 recipient. Diaz has long been regarded for his outstanding defense and Baseball America has also recognized him as the best defensive catcher in the FSL in 2013, Eastern League in 2014 and International League this season.

Diaz threw out 30% of runners attempting to steal this season and had just four passed balls. He has thrown out 29% of runners during his career and he receives a lot of praise for his work with pitchers, as well as his quickness behind the plate and ability to block pitches in the dirt.

In one way, this is an odd year for him to win the award because he only caught 60 games, splitting time behind the plate with Tony Sanchez all season. Diaz was called up to the Pirates on September 1st for his big league debut, but only got into two games in the majors, both times as a pinch-hitter. He was working on his offense during the season, being used occasionally in the DH role, so he didn’t see much time behind the plate over the course of the season.

With Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart still under Pirates’ control next season, you would expect Diaz to be the everyday catcher at Indianapolis, and be the first player they call up if something happens to either player.

  • So the best defensive Catcher in the minor leagues isn’t even rated the best defensive Catcher in the Pirates organisation. With Diaz and McGuire in the fold, I’d say Pirates have this aspect of the game covered for the foreseeable future.

  • I think we see a Stew trade in the off season and Diaz assumes the backup role. With a year to learn the staff under Cervill’s watchful eye I believe would serve him much better than to be in AAA all year…

    • I think this is vastly neglected by the “depth” crowd. Sure, depth is important, but having a quality starter is more so.

      Diaz should spend some development time in AAA, but it would absolutely be a mistake keeping him down for the entire year and then expect him to show up Opening Day 2017 as a starter.

      • Stewart has a great deal of value to this Pirate team, not all of which happens on the field. However, if they trade Stewie and go with Diaz as the back-up, I would not be upset. But, it is far from a move that has to be made, and I agree that if they keep the present pair in place to begin 2016, there has to be a plan in place to have Diaz in Pittsburgh hopefully by July 2016. If they bring up a few SP’s in Jun 2016, I would bring him right along with them.

        Diaz only had 326 AB’s in 2014 at AA, and about 50 in AAA. In 2015 he only had about 325 in AAA, so another half year of AB’s in AAA would probably be beneficial. Stewart in 2014 and 2015 combined did not even log 300 AB’s

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    October 15, 2015 10:03 pm

    If Stewart remains the backup next year, it just further proves that the Pirates undervalue their own prospects. Stewart is terrible defensively, and only a singles hitter.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    October 15, 2015 10:02 pm

    Yet he wasn’t good enough for the Pirates, who kept Stewart who was one of the worst defensive catchers in all of baseball. He had more errors than most starting catchers.

  • I can understand that it is important for the Pirates to protect their depth, especially at catcher which is a position where injuries are common. At the same time, they had a major problem in 2015 with allowing stolen bases (I believe they led the majors in this stat!). It seems that having an exceptional defensive player at catcher could energise the team and prevent runs, so it would be good to see them use Diaz in the majors in some way. The Cubs and Astros have shown that it is important not to be afraid of getting young players on the field.

  • Let’s just hope his bat plays in the majors.

    • I could care less if his bat plays. Sure it would be a bonus but having a shut down catcher is invaluable . Proven by Russ Martin here for two years. Martin left this year and our defense went to cr*p and teams ran at will on us…

  • mike_carlini66
    October 15, 2015 6:35 pm

    Why is there never a mention about pitch framing regarding Diaz? Is there information regarding pitch framing on him?

  • What would Stewart’s value be in a trade. IF Diaz is the defensive wizard everyone thinks why not let um understudy with Cervelli next year – see how his throwing arm works with ML runners.

    I like Stewart – he could start for a number of teams – why not let him have a chance to do so?

    • I think there is 2 ways of looking at it. Both Cervelli and Stewart can play out their option at the end of next year. You could try and trade Stewart and let Diaz mentor under Cervelli. Or the option I prefer is to keep Diaz in AAA and have him work on his hitting and insurance if one of the catchers go down. Then I would try to sign Stewart and let Diaz mentor with Stewart. Cervelli would cost too much long term.

    • A 34 year-old backup catcher due an arbitration increase? Trade value is essentially zero. Consider Geovany Soto, a longtime starter, was signed as a minor league free agent for his age-32 season.

    • Because you’ll freak out if/when Cervelli gets hurt and we have Diaz starting and a random AAA guy as the backup. More depth=good.

      Wont be the worst thing in the world to let Diaz continue to work on his hitting and not be all defense when he arrives.

      • And do tell what the reaction will be on May 1st, 2017 if Elias Diaz comes out of the gate struggling as the starter. You know, the guy who is guaranteed to play significant innings unlike the 3rd and 4th string catcher.

        • So the logic is that 50 games as backup will cure him of his ills of struggling as a full time starter. Even if we assume thats true, its still a crappy risk trade. You lose better depth and logic would dictate that your backup “struggles out of the gate” making the team worse.

          Deal with Diaz’s rookie struggles when you have to, not when you have a fully capable option currently that allows you to have more depth and not potentially start the rookie next year if Cervelli goes down. Another few hundred at bats in AAA sure wont hurt his chances of limiting initial struggles.

          To use one example, Yadi Molina got 50 games in 2005. Thats what you are looking experience wise for to have him be a better option for full time starter. Except those 50 games really didnt help Yadi be a great offensive option the following year, it took him 2 years to find his offense. I dont think its clear at all that 50 games in the majors will ward off struggles come 2017 or that lacking ML experience hinders a C from being able to take over.

          • Since you’re so big on examples, go look at how Major League catchers are typically broken in.

            You’ll find that you must be a lot smarter than actual professionals if you actually believe what you’re saying.

          • And if you actually, ever, read what I write you’d see that I absolutely think Diaz should get another feww hundred at bats in AAA.

            That’s mid-June, by the way.

          • Diaz should have had his 50 this year & 60+ in 2016 & we would have known then if he was ready to take over in ’17. It looks to me that the Bucs have decided that his upside is as a #3 depth guy or possibly a trade option now.

            • I see zero reason why they see that as his “upside”. Unless anyone who gets a cup of coffee is then seen as trade bait, which makes no sense.

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