Colorado Rockies catcher Elias Diaz saw his first game action in 2020 on Friday and his play might help his future playing time.
The Colorado Rockies currently have three catchers on their 28-man roster but through the team’s first two weeks of the season, they had only used two of them. However, on Friday, the third catcher, Elias Diaz, saw his first action of the 2020 campaign as he started and batted ninth in the series-opening game against the Seattle Mariners.
Diaz, 29, was signed by the Rockies this past offseason on a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training after spending parts of the last five seasons at the major league level with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was brought in as more of an offensive catcher than his other catching counterparts, Tony Wolters and Drew Butera.
For Diaz, 2018 was his best year at the plate and in 277 plate appearances, he hit .286/.339/.452 with an OPS+ of 116.
When training resumed in July, Diaz caught a few of the Rockies’ intrasquad games and exhibition games and combined between Spring and Summer Training this year, he hit .409/.462/.545 in 22 at-bats. As a result, he made the Rockies Opening Day roster.
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But up until Friday, Diaz wasn’t used even in a pinch-hitting situation. When he did get his first start of the season, though, he went 2-for-4 at the plate with a single and a double. The double came in his first plate appearance in the third inning after Chris Owings singled to start the inning. Both Owings and Diaz subsequently scored after a Garrett Hampson ground out and a fielder’s choice for Trevor Story.
The single came in the 9th to lead off the inning. Even with a four-run lead in the 9th, the Rockies had the bases loaded with two outs and Diaz on third for Matt Kemp after Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado walked but Kemp was unable to cash in.
Even in the very small sample of four plate appearances, Diaz was good at the plate whereas Tony Wolters and Drew Butera have not been.
Wolters, in 34 plate appearances, has as many extra-base hits as Diaz does as he has one double and six singles. He has three RBI and a slash line of .219/.242/.250 and an OPS+ of 31. Butera, in 10 plate appearances, has one single and an RBI with a slash line of .125/.111/.125 and an OPS+ of -38.
Both Wolters and Butera are better defensively than Diaz but he should see more playing time if he can hit anywhere close to what he did in 2018 and in Spring/Summer Training.