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Bucs catching prospect Diaz climbing depth chart

Bucs catching prospect Diaz climbing depth chart

MILWAUKEE -- About a year ago, few people had heard about Elias Diaz. He was just another 22-year-old catcher in the Pirates' farm system.

About a month ago, all Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington heard about was Diaz -- from other team executives with whom he tried to work a non-waiver Trade Deadline swap.

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Not surprisingly, Diaz is a rising star in the Bucs' galaxy who may have quickly supplanted former No. 1 Draft pick Tony Sanchez as the team's future behind the plate. Sanchez, in fact, made his debut at first base for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night -- on orders from the big club, days after Diaz's promotion from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A.

"We're trying to provide some versatility for Tony, but it will also give more opportunity to gain some Triple-A experience for one of our brightest young prospects," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the moves.

Prior to the promotion, Diaz was selected to the Eastern League postseason All-Star team (along with right-hander Adrian Sampson) after batting .328 with 54 RBIs in 91 games with the Curve.

"Throughout the Trade Deadline talks, this is a guy that everyone asked about," Hurdle said of Diaz, a Venezuela native wrapping up his sixth season in the Bucs' organization. "So he's getting attention from a lot of other places as well.

"The reports on him have been really solid. The work ethic, pregame planning, blocking, throwing -- all the defense has shown up extremely well, and the bat has shown up as well. He's a guy we'll have more conversations about over the winter."

As Russell Martin prepared to enter his "walk" season, Hurdle all but anointed Sanchez his No. 1 catcher-in-waiting during Spring Training.

Sanchez spent a month early this season as the Pirates' primary catcher while Martin was on the DL with a hamstring injury.

On Saturday, Sanchez tweeted, "Catch ... first base ... clean Cutch's cleats. Don't matter. I'll do whatever it takes to be in the show."

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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