MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Pirates catching prospect Diaz showing defensive skills in AFL

Pirates catching prospect Diaz showing defensive skills in AFL

I believe baseball fans in general, and Pittsburgh Pirates fans in particular, should remember the name Elias Diaz. Diaz is a catcher from the Pirates on the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. I sat up in my seat when I watched him play for the first time.

I was so intrigued that I returned to watch him in another game. It didn't take long before I couldn't take my eyes off him. He reminded me of a former Pirates catcher I used to admire. Diaz has the same quickness and apparent passion for the game as Manny Sanguillen, an All-Star Pirates catcher from the 1970s. Sanguillen, from Panama, is now 70. He played at 6-foot, 190-pounds. Diaz is 6-foot-1 and 175-pounds. He won't turn 24 until November.

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Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Marte, Martin finalists for Gold Glove; Cutch shut out

Marte, Martin finalists for Gold Glove; Cutch shut out

SCOTTSDALE -- Left fielder Starling Marte and catcher Russell Martin were announced Thursday as finalists for 2014 National League Rawlings Gold Glove Awards.

However, center fielder Andrew McCutchen -- a finalist the past three seasons who actually earned the emblem of defensive excellence in 2012 -- did not receive a nomination.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Pirates' Bell getting his feet wet at first base in AFL

Organization's 2014 Minor League Player of the Year transitioning from outfield

Pirates' Bell getting his feet wet at first base in AFL

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates placed a high "priority" on finding out this fall whether Josh Bell, the organization's No. 3 prospect, can be a viable future option at the persistent black hole in their lineup -- first base. They designated the natural outfielder as their "priority" player on Scottsdale's roster in the Arizona Fall League, locking him in to getting the bulk of playing time at the position.

For Bell, who had never before played in the infield, the accelerated education has been challenging. He hasn't failed but, if actually being graded, he would have an "incomplete" 13 games into the 32-game AFL schedule.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Pirates ink righty Stinson to Minor League deal

Pirates ink righty Stinson to Minor League deal

The Pirates have signed right-hander Josh Stinson to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training next year.

Stinson, 26, made the Orioles' 2014 Opening Day roster and appeared in seven games before he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. There, he went 5-5 with a 5.48 ERA in 85 1/3 innings over 22 games (13 starts). He won five straight decisions from July 24 through Aug. 13.

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hurdle, Huntington praise departing Banister

Respected bench coach will take reins as manager of Rangers

Hurdle, Huntington praise departing Banister

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, whose support for Jeff Banister had a lot to do with his hiring by Texas, wished well to the new Rangers manager with gratitude.

"On behalf of the Pirates organization," Huntington said, "we want to thank Jeff for his long-standing impact and dedication. His leadership, character, work ethic, knowledge of the game, energy and passion made us better every day he was a Pirate. We wish Jeff and his family nothing but success with the Texas Rangers."

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Glasnow leads way in sharp outing for Bucs hurlers at AFL

Pirates pitching prospects on point for Scottsdale before Peoria's late rally

Glasnow leads way in sharp outing for Bucs hurlers at AFL

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Major Leagues' scintillating, unpredictable postseason is on hiatus, but scintillating, unpredictable baseball goes on.

The Arizona Fall League filled the void Saturday, with Peoria's 4-3, 11th-inning walk-off win over Scottsdale.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Catching prospect Diaz could be in Pirates' plans for 2015

Catching prospect Diaz could be in Pirates' plans for 2015

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's the eighth inning of a recent Arizona Fall League game, and Scottsdale's 2-1 lead is in jeopardy as Mesa loads the bases with two outs. Right-hander Colton Murray's pitch to the lefty hitting Jacob Hannemann sails way outside, forcing catcher Elias Diaz to quickly shift both his feet and hands to backhand the ball.

From that twisted receiving position, Diaz uncoils and unloads a throw to second that almost picks off the runner, Dan Robertson.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Bucs considering future of four key veterans

Bucs considering future of four key veterans

PITTSBURGH -- The day after the Pirates' loss in the National League Wild Card Game, four of their players became free agents. On the sixth day after the conclusion of the World Series, other clubs can begin dickering with Russell Martin, Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano and Clint Barmes.

Until then, the Bucs are free to do their own negotiations with the four. Per club policy, general manager Neal Huntington won't comment to the extent he has taken advantage of having the players' undivided attention.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Glasnow rebounds in second Fall League outing

Pirates prospect tosses three shutout innings after rocky AFL debut

Glasnow rebounds in second Fall League outing

Tyler Glasnow's Arizona Fall League debut last Tuesday didn't go according to plan. The right-hander's command wasn't sharp and he walked three batters in the first inning. He recorded just two outs before he was removed due to his pitch count, which had already reached 29.

Glasnow, the Pirates' No. 1 prospect, returned to the mound Monday and fared much better, throwing three scoreless innings as Scottsdale defeated Mesa, 2-1. The Scorpions have now won three games in a row.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hurdle's hip replacement surgery successful

Bucs skipper expected to make full recovery after undergoing procedure

Hurdle's hip replacement surgery successful

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle underwent successful right hip replacement surgery on Monday, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

The team made the announcement on Monday afternoon, five days after the Pirates were eliminated from the playoffs by the Giants in the National League Wild Card Game.

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Top Pirates prospect Glasnow on the fast track

Righty set to start in AFL opener after spending season at Bradenton

Top Pirates prospect Glasnow on the fast track

PITTSBURGH -- When you are a fast-rising ballplayer, you don't get to rest on your laurels. You don't get to rest, period. Thus, Tyler Glasnow will be back on the mound Tuesday night, pitching for Scottsdale under the Arizona palms, 39 days after doing his thing for Bradenton under the Florida palms.

Glasnow's thing was quite mind-blowing. With the Marauders of the Class A Advanced Florida State League, he went 12-5 with a 1.74 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings. Domination every fifth day earned the 6-foot-7, 21-year-old right-hander top prospect ratings from multiple sources, including MLB.com's Pipeline.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Banister won't manage in Arizona Fall League after all

Pirates bench coach -- a top candidate for Rangers' skipper opening -- did not want to be distraction

Banister won't manage in Arizona Fall League after all

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tyler Glasnow was on the mound, Elias Diaz was behind the plate and Josh Bell was at first base Monday night when the Scottsdale Scorpions hosted Mesa in Arizona Fall League action.

So the must-see Pirates prospects were in place. One key individual, however, was missing from the pregame plate huddle with umpires: Jeff Banister, scheduled to manage Scottsdale, was not present -- and won't be for the rest of the AFL schedule.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Pirates acquire pitcher Guilmet from Orioles

Pirates acquire pitcher Guilmet from Orioles

An expected busy offseason for the Pirates got off to a quick start Friday with the acquisition of right-hander Preston Guilmet from the Orioles for cash considerations.

Guilmet, 27, instantly becomes a Spring Training candidate for a bullpen that could undergo considerable makeover for 2015.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Stars of tomorrow ready to shine as '14 AFL season begins

Stars of tomorrow ready to shine as '14 AFL season begins

Over its 23-year history, the Arizona Fall League has developed a reputation as a finishing school for baseball's top prospects. This year, once again, many of the game's best young players will gather in the desert, hoping to prove themselves in the same league that helped catapult Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Trout to stardom.

When the AFL opens play Tuesday, the concentration of talent will again be readily apparent. Two of the three Opening Day games feature premium pitching matchups, and the third game is highlighted by two of the best shortstops in the Minor Leagues.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Huntingon has plenty of work ahead of 2015

Decisions on Martin, Volquez and Liriano will be key to club's offseason

Huntingon has plenty of work ahead of 2015

PITTSBURGH -- Even before the 2014 season officially ended for the Pirates, '15 began for their general manager, Neal Huntington.

The two biggest exit cheers during Wednesday night's National League Wild Card Game were for right-hander Edinson Volquez -- even as he walked off the mound down, 4-0, in the sixth inning -- and for catcher Russell Martin, as he was making the first out in the ninth inning of an 8-0 loss.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Resilient Pirates dug deep to make it back to playoffs

Behind Harrison, Volquez and Co., Bucs overcame slow start for Wild Card berth

Resilient Pirates dug deep to make it back to playoffs

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' 2014 season ended in the type of disappointment a generation of Buccos faithful could have only fantasized about: A loss in a postseason game.

But a year after ending one trend, these Pirates have begun a new tradition -- not only of winning, but of making playoffs. Their calendar now includes Buctober. The Boys of Bummer have grown into the Men of Autumn.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Pending free agent Martin feels the love in Pittsburgh

Fans chant 'Re-sign Russ' during possible final at-bat of catcher's Pirates tenure

Pending free agent Martin feels the love in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- While some of the record PNC Park crowd scattered over the Allegheny River in an effort to beat traffic, the ones who remained during the ninth inning of the Pirates' 8-0 season-ending loss to the Giants on Wednesday night realized and appreciated what was happening.

Russell Martin -- the 31-year-old Bucs catcher who has had a career season and turned into a beloved figure -- led off the final half inning of the National League Wild Card Game to a chant of "Re-sign Russ!"

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Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Fade to black: Pirates fall in Wild Card shutout

Volquez serves up grand slam, while bats are blanked by Bumgarner

Fade to black: Pirates fall in Wild Card shutout

PITTSBURGH -- After two days of plots, subplots and plotting, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford boiled the National League Wild Card Game down to a one-act drama. He took Edinson Volquez out of PNC Park, and took that notorious PNC Park crowd out of the game.

Crawford's fourth-inning grand slam Wednesday night also took the Pirates out of the 2014 postseason, dooming them to an 8-0 loss on Madison Bumgarner's four-hit masterpiece.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Bucs don't pout after rout, reflect fondly on season

Bucs don't pout after rout, reflect fondly on season

PITTSBURGH -- During his session in the media interview room on Wednesday afternoon, Josh Harrison mentioned that the National League Wild Card Game isn't the ideal place for a team to find itself when postseason play begins.

"Honestly, anybody would love to win the division and stay away from this game, but somebody's got to do it," the Pittsburgh Pirates' All-Star infielder-outfielder said. "Regardless, it's still the playoffs."

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Jim Lachimia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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September stud Volquez stung by homer in October

After stellar month earns him Wild Card Game start, righty allows five runs -- four on one swing

September stud Volquez stung by homer in October

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez threw 83 pitches in the most important start of his career. There's one pitch he desperately wishes he could have back.

Volquez allowed a grand slam to Brandon Crawford in the fourth inning of Wednesday night's National League Wild Card Game against the Giants, by far the most impactful swing of an 8-0 drubbing. On a 1-2 curveball, Crawford lifted a fly ball to the seats in right field.

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Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Oct. 1, Hurdle Wild Card postgame interview

Oct. 1, Hurdle Wild Card postgame interview

Q. Congratulations, a fine season. I imagine that's the message you probably shared with your players before you came here. But besides that, Volquez held off the Giants into the fourth inning but seemed to be missing his spark quite a bit. Was he just not at his sharpest?

CLINT HURDLE: I think for the first three we've seen what we've seen from him in the past. The ability you know, maybe let guys on base and the ability to make pitches and work through it. The wall complicated things, a hanging breaking ball to Crawford up, middle in. We wanted to go down back foot, missed a spot.

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Burgh Man makes postseason appearance at PNC Park

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Burgh Man makes postseason appearance at PNC Park

It's a disco ball ... it's a mobile rave ... it's BURGH MAN!

While the Pirates' second consecutive NL Wild Card appearance resulted in an 8-0 loss to the Giants, there was still plenty of positive energy to be had on the bridge outside PNC Park. It was there that Pittsburgh's glow stick-adorned, bowling pin-slinging superfan made an October appearance: 

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Tekulve gets PNC crowd pumped up with first pitch

Ex-Bucs All-Star reliever, who helped seal 1979 World Series, is coming off heart transplant

Tekulve gets PNC crowd pumped up with first pitch

PITTSBURGH -- Greeted by a standing ovation, and less than a month removed from a heart transplant, Kent Tekulve was back in a No. 27 Pirates jersey on Wednesday night. The man who threw the final pitch the last time the Bucs won the World Series tossed the first pitch of their 2014 postseason.

Tekulve, 67, underwent the procedure on Sept. 5, and the former All-Star reliever was back in the public spotlight.

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Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Did You Know? 2014 NL Wild Card Game

Did You Know? 2014 NL Wild Card Game

The Giants beat the Pirates, 8-0, in Wednesday night's National League Wild Card Game at PNC Park, advancing to the NL Division Series against the Nationals. San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner was masterful in tossing a shutout on 109 pitches, while Brandon Crawford hit a fourth-inning grand slam that proved to be more than enough support.

Here's what you should know:

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Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hurdle opts to fortify 'pen for Wild Card roster

Bucs manager goes with eight-man relief corps for game against Giants

Hurdle opts to fortify 'pen for Wild Card roster

PITTSBURGH -- Rookie pitchers John Holdzkom and left-hander Bobby LaFromboise were included on the Pirates' roster for Wednesday night's National League Wild Card Game, as announced by manager Clint Hurdle.

Holdzkom and LaFromboise, both September callups to the expanded roster, will be part of an eight-man bullpen behind starter Edinson Volquez.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Giants, Bucs traveled similar paths to Wild Card Game

Giants, Bucs traveled similar paths to Wild Card Game

PITTSBURGH -- The Giants and Pirates traveled similar roads to get here. That's not important now. Right, Hunter Pence?

"That's the beauty of it," San Francisco's right fielder said.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Driving force: McCutchen leads with grit, selflessness

Pirates star inspires team by quietly playing through pain of fractured rib

Driving force: McCutchen leads with grit, selflessness

PITTSBURGH -- "Another day, another guy." That could be the subhead to another headline Pirates season. It is definitely how the Bucs see themselves, individuals blended into a team.

In support of that image, no one player is deemed more vital than another. That might play around the apocryphal campfire, but don't you believe it. Andrew McCutchen is still the engine under this hood.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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