Found July 14, 2013 on Pirates Prospects:
Gregory Polanco starts in center field and hits 7th for Team World in the 2013 Futures Game. The future for top Pirates hitting prospect Gregory Polanco has grown brighter and brighter for the last three years. The center fielder comes to the 2013 Futures Game as one of baseball’s most exciting minor-league outfielders. Showing up in New York City for All-Star Week represents a coming-out party for Polanco. He was neither a highly-touted draft choice nor a Dominican bonus baby, receiving just $75,000 from the Pittsburgh Pirates to sign in March 2009. “I’m very excited,” Polanco said after being named to the Futures Game with second baseman Dilson Herrera. “I’ve got to keep working and doing what I’m doing right now. Move forward.” Getting to NYC Polanco’s last two seasons have been a revelation. Two years after arriving in America a tall, skinny 18-year-old, Polanco is now both a bona fide five-tool prospect and a hitter almost assured of making some measure of Major League impact. Over the Low-A, High-A and Double-A levels since the start of 2012, the center fielder has produced a stellar .317 average, an .873 OPS, 24 home runs and 68 stolen bases. “When he first came over, you knew ‘Wow,’” said Ryan Long, Polanco’s current hitting coach at Double-A Altoona. “You’ve got this guy who has a great body, long arms and speed. For me, it’s been cool to see him three years later… where all that’s come together a little bit and starting to polish up.” Now Polanco, 22, is considered one of the game’s best up-and-coming position players. Baseball Prospectus named him baseball’s No. 12 prospect with “the talent to move up the list.” Baseball America placed him No. 13 overall, saying “when Polanco joins Pirates outfield, club will field three legitimate center fielders.” Moving Up the Ranks Gregory Polanco (left) and Alen Hanson (right) shared a breakout year in West Virginia last season. After a breakthrough 2012 season playing only for Low-A West Virginia (.325/.388/.522, 16 HR, 40 SB), Polanco needed only 57 games at High-A Bradenton before Pirates general manager Neal Huntington promoted him to the upper minors. “We felt like he was ready for the next challenge,” Huntington said. “The pitchers’ commands gonna be a little better. The consistency of their stuff is gonna be a little bit better. It’s gonna challenge him a little bit more as a hitter. Much like any young hitter, as long as he commands the strike zone, he is gonna have a lot of success.” Polanco has certainly commanded the strike zone well, almost surprisingly well given his age and the reputation among Dominican players to be impatient in the batters’ box. The disciplined Polanco owns a decent 9% walk rate over the last two seasons and a .378 on-base percentage. His patience in a microcosm: drawing a four-pitch walk off Major League reliever Brett Myers during the pitcher’s rehab assignment in Double-A Akron, all pitches that just barely missed the outside edge of the strike zone. “I was looking for one pitch and he didn’t throw it to me,” Polanco said. What’s Next For a hitting prospect that has broken through so dramatically, one with such great talent and makeup plus an already-high level of play, what else is there for Polanco to learn before his likely Major League callup next summer? “Right now I’m focused on getting ready early and hit the ball left-center field,” Polanco said. “Stay sharp. Be consistent.” The 6-foot-4 Polanco turned heads in Spring Training. Hitting coach? “Hitting is always a constant game of adjustments,” Long said. “Learning what pitchers are doing to you in certain situations, those kinds of things. Harnessing your true strengths.” Altoona manager Carlos Garcia, himself a former Caribbean prospect before an All-Star stint with the Pirates? “You have to be consistent all around,” Garcia said. “If he has to work in one thing, it’s become a professional. A professional ball player does the right thing all the time, on and off the field.” Who Was That Kid? If the Futures Game represents Polanco’s debut on the national scene, hitting in a Major League ballpark and being scene across the country on ESPN2, he is certainly already well-known for his exploits in Major League spring training. He appeared in only five games with the Pirates’ squad this spring, but manager Clint Hurdle said most who saw him wanted to know, “Who was that kid?” “Now as he continues to make his minor league rounds and I call friends within our industry, there’s a lot of people who are aware of who Gregory Polanco is,” Hurdle said. Easy: one of the five best outfield prospects in all of baseball.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Top Performers: Dickerson and Rojas Hitting Their Way Back to Top Prospect Status

Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Players who spent time at different levels are counted multiple times, once for each level,...

Mark Melancon will be Named to All-Star Game

Mark Melancon has been one of the NL’s best relief pitchers in 2013. (Photo by: David Hague) Pirates reliever Mark Melancon will be named to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game as an injury replacement. Major League Baseball’s announcement will come later Sunday after Melancon was chosen by National League manager Bruce Bochy. Melancon owns an NL-reliever-best 0.81 ERA in his first Pittsburgh...

Minor League Schedule: Heredia On The Mound Tonight

Luis Heredia is scheduled to make his fifth start of the season tonight, coming off a rain-shortened game last time out. The GCL Pirates and both Dominican League affiliates were off yesterday. All three resume play today. Tyler Glasnow was originally scheduled to start yesterday. The West Virginia game was suspended in the third inning due to rain and Glasnow’s start was pushed...

Melancon driven to be an All-Star - in minivan

You could say Mark Melancon was driven to be an All-Star. The Pittsburgh Pirates reliever learned Saturday he was selected as a National League replacement after teammate Jeff Locke got hurt. Melancon took a decidedly non-chic route to Citi Field. ''I rented a minivan, and my wife and I and my parents drove,'' he said Monday. His parents flew to Pittsburgh from...

Pittsburgh Pirates: Seattle Mariners ideal trade target

(Opening image credit foxsports) Even at 19 games over .500, the Pittsburgh Pirates need offense.  Badly.  Heading into the 1st half finale series against the New York Mets, the Buccos are 25th in team batting average, 21st in OBP, and 26th in runs scored- making their +46 run differential “Z” only legit power threat the Pirates have; image credit zimbio that much more of a...

Pirates' Locke to skip All-Star game

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke will sit out next week's All-Star game because of stiffness in his lower back. Locke will also skip his scheduled start on Sunday against the New York Mets. Rookie Gerrit Cole will start in Locke's place. The 25-year-old Locke says he felt some discomfort toward the end of his seven innings in a 2-1 loss to Oakland on Tuesday night...

Melancon among 3 added to ASG roster

Pittsburgh pitcher Mark Melancon has been picked as a replacement for the NL All-Star team, giving the Pirates five players in the game for the first time since 1972. NL manager Bruce Bochy also selected Sergio Romo, his San Francisco Giants closer, as a replacement pick Sunday. Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke and Washington Nationals pitcher Jordan ZImmermann, both on the original NL...

Grilli thrilled to be an All Star

Pirates closer Jason Grilli was named to the National League All Star team. Grilli, 36, is having a career year in his first season as a closer with the Pirates. He leads the National League with 29 saves in 30 chances and he has a 1.99 ERA. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko caught up with Grilli just before the All Star break.

Russell Martin Is Silky Smooth

I landed the first silk of my collection, and it appropriately is a Russ Martin silk.Numbered 05/50, it ran me just $3.50 delivered and - as is the norm for Russell's cards - comes complete with a great photo of the former Blue Crew backstop.

Minor League Schedule: Just Four Games On A Slow Tuesday

It’s a slow day for minor league ball as the Major League All-Star game takes center stage. Jamestown, West Virginia and Bradenton all have the day off and will resume play tomorrow. Indianapolis in now on their All-Star break and they resume play Thursday. For a look at the possible starters over the next few weeks, please check out our Probable Pitchers Chart. Check out the Recent...

At the break

Let's spend one moment thinking back to April 1st. On April 1st, I was awfully concerned about the upcoming season. Simply put, I thought it was time for the Pirates to move to the proverbial "next level" of their long rebuilding process and I didn't think that the team, as assembled, was ready to make that jump. I was concerned that they were wasting years of Andrew...

Pirates fans booed David Wright over Pedro Alvarez snub

New York Mets third baseman David Wright was booed by Pittsburgh Pirates fans on Friday at PNC Park, and it’s all because of a Home Run Derby snub. This year’s All-Star Game is being played at Citi Field, so Wright was named captain of the NL Derby team. He chose Bryce Harper, Carlos Gonzalez, and [...]

Catching up

I've been traveling for the last couple of days, which is why I haven't posted much of anything. Let's get caught up.  The Pirates have logged two narrow victories over the Mets in the last two days, which has them tied again with the Cardinals the day before the All-Star Break. I told you on Friday that everything would be fine if the Pirates swept the Mets.  ...

Pittsburgh Heel Turn

Well I hope Pirates fans feel better now that they've gotten their anger out of their system towards David Wright. I hope their announcers are also happy that they fanned the flames of their already agitated fan base to stir up some sort of rah rah ballpark interest. Good for them. Even though they have four all-stars and 54 wins going into Friday's game, and therefore a...
All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.