Prospect Watching: Brian Friday and Argenis Diaz

Friday was named to the 2009 Eastern League All-Star team, and started at shortstop for the Eastern League South team. �He singled in the game, but didn’t come around to score. �After the 2009 season, Friday was sent to the Arizona Fall League, where he got into 13 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions. �He did not hit a lot there, just .245 with a double and a triple, and 7 RBI. �The Pirates invited Friday to major league camp for spring training, but was sent down to the minor league camp in the first round of cuts on March 14th. �He got into 4 Grapefruit League games, and went 1-for-5 at the plate.

Argenis Diaz came to the Pirates from the Red Sox in the trade for Adam LaRoche last summer. �Diaz was in his 4th season in the US portion of the Boston organization, where he was considered a top defensive prospect. �At the plate, Diaz was fairly consistent over the previous two seasons, with a .281 average but little power at the A, A+, and AA levels. �He began 2009 back with AA Portland, and in 76 games prior to the trade, the Venezuelan native had slipped to a .253 average with 14 doubles and 24 RBI. �The Pirates placed Diaz on the 40-man roster (he was on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster also) and promoted him to AAA Indianapolis. �With the Indians, Diaz struggled at the plate, hitting .233 with one double and 8 RBI in 43 games. �He was the regular shortstop for the Indians after the trade, and was consistent at short. �Diaz had worried some people with his errors in the previous seasons, though minor league shortstops making errors is not unusual. �After joining the Indians, Diaz made 6 errors, which worked out to a .969 fielding percentage — his career best. �Diaz got into 6 games for the Pirates in 2010 Grapefruit League play, but went just 1-for-10 at the plate with 5 strikeouts. �Like Friday, he was sent to minor league camp on March 14th.

With both Friday and Diaz likely to be assigned to Indianapolis, it is going to be a crowded middle infield. �The Indians will �probably also have at least one of Shelby Ford and Jim Negrych, if not both, for second base. �They will also have Doug Bernier, and Neil Walker is supposed to be getting time at second base too. �Chase d’Arnaud and Jordy Mercer should be at AA Altoona, so there won’t be much room there either. �It seems like the 23-year-old Diaz and the 24-year-old Friday will be job-sharing at short. �If one is hitting and the other isn’t, will that matter? �Friday has not been viewed as a top-priority prospect, while Diaz was acquired in a big trade. �Recently, the Pirates have given players acquired that way more leeway than other players, so Diaz might be given the priority here. �This would not be the season for Friday to have a big slump or to see his strikeout rate soar.

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