Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/19/14
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.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jim Harbaugh won in laser tag by 'hunting' 10-year-old kid

Eddie Lacy is ‘very blind,’ refuses to wear goggles

Michael Phelps pleads guilty to DUI, gets probation

NFL scouts not in love with Amari Cooper?

Report: No teams interested in trading for Lance Stephenson

It is not Chip Kelly's fault if Eagles miss playoffs

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

Game of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys

NBA games of the weekend: Rondo's Dallas debut, Bulls-Grizz

Tuscaloosa students will have two days off if Bama plays in National Championship

Brady scares the **** out of his teammates celebrating

Longhorn Network’s yule log? Five hours of BEVO

Will a Chiefs WR finally catch a TD in Week 16?

Jon Lester and the Cubs

The Toronto Raptors reveal their new logo

Things Johnny Manziel, Browns can do to avoid a bad repeat

What if the Bengals hired Bill Walsh?

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Game of the week: Colts vs. Cowboys

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Why the Saints are legit playoff threat

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.