How much do you believe in Elias Diaz and/or Jacob Stallings as the Pirates' catchers of the future?
Hopefully, your answer there is "quite a bit," because it sure sounds like Neal Huntington is comfortable with at least one of them moving forward.
With Francisco Cervelli officially suiting up for the Braves, Diaz and Stallings remain — and they just might be with the club for the long haul, too.
"We've got two young catchers, one that's really taken a good step forward this year in Jacob Stallings and another one that's caught and thrown and hit well but that's going through a tough time. And how do we get him back?" Huntington began during his media session at PNC Park on Sunday. "So that is where we want to continue to have them split time and continue to show us what they can do to see if they are a part of our future."
That's a lotta nothing, right? Thankfully, Huntington refined that thought:
"One of these guys or both of these guys could be a part of our future, not only for next year, but for years into the future if we can continue to get them to either continue to grow or we can get the other guy back to what he was before," he said.
Another option, of course, is acquiring an outside catcher. Huntington isn't ruling that out, either.
"In this day and age, we always talk about pitching as a game of attrition — you can never have enough of it — and catching's the hardest position to come by," Huntington said. "We've got some guys in the system that we like the way they catch and throw and block and game-call, [but] the offense hasn't come around. We've got some guys that can swing the bat and we're working on their defense. If we could blend the two, we'd have a couple outstanding catching prospects. But it's really a prospect-short position in the industry. We'll take a look at what's available in the trade and in the free-agent market this offseason."
With that in mind, the attention turns to the Pirates' prospects. While there's no standout catcher waiting for his chance at the moment, the Pirates will make some promotions in September.
How many — and who — remains a mystery.
"The bottom line comes back to opportunity," Huntington said. "Are they ready? And how do they fit in the bigger picture? I know everybody just wants to bring up every prospect and play the prospects. What, 17 or 18 of our guys are less than three years of major-league service [right now] so we're playing our young players.
"This young player group had us to within two-and-a-half games of first place in July, and we've hit a really tough stretch. There [are] things to learn and grow from it, and we'll bring up some guys that are going to compete, to show us what they can do. Pablo Reyes was a great September story last year, and we'll add some position players, we'll add some pitchers and still look to go out and compete and win games."
Huntington also discussed Ke'Bryan Hayes' emergence at the plate, Chad Kuhl's eventual return, Bryan Reynolds' steady brilliance as a rookie, and much more.
Watch the full video right here:
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