Found April 07, 2013 on Pirates Prospects:
Gregory Polanco hit his first homer of the year today. Last year Scott Diamond made 27 starts for the Minnesota Twins. He posted a 3.54 ERA in 173 innings, with a 90:31 K/BB ratio. Today, Diamond was on a rehab assignment, pitching for Fort Myers against the Bradenton Marauders. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Gregory Polanco took him opposite field for his first home run of the 2013 season. If there’s one thing that has impressed me about Polanco more than anything else, it’s that he hasn’t seen a lot of struggles against lefties. There have been a few occasions where he’s faced upper level lefty talent and has made it look easy. I first noticed this last year when he was going up against Nathan Baker in an intra-squad game. Baker isn’t exactly a top prospect, but at the time Polanco was a guy who had only played rookie ball, and Baker was a guy who had just pitched in the Arizona Fall League that off-season. Baker is also a lefty, and put up some good numbers last year in Altoona’s bullpen. So from an experience standpoint, Baker had the advantage. Yet Polanco launched a home run off Baker that day over the tall fence in right field on field four at Pirate City. Today Polanco didn’t look good in his first at-bat against Diamond. He had a few off-balanced swings, and one where he was out ahead of an off-speed pitch. The second at-bat was much different. He took Diamond opposite field, hitting his first homer of the year just over the scoreboard and off the front of the boardwalk at McKechnie Field. “He has a good idea how they’re going to try and get him out,” manager Frank Kremblas said. “His hand-eye coordination is good, and he’s just a good athlete.” A lot of left-handers struggle going up against left-handed pitchers. Pirates fans have certainly seen that from Pedro Alvarez. A lot of power hitters — especially those that come out of the Dominican Republic — struggle with strikeouts. Yet Polanco doesn’t really have either of these problems. He destroyed left-handers last year with a 1.087 OPS, compared to a .850 OPS against right-handers. He also only struck out 13.2 percent of the time. One thing you also want to see from hitters is hitting to all fields. Polanco does that well. He’s spent time working on hitting to the opposite field, and showed the results today. “I worked on opposite field, but when they stay middle-in, I know I’ve got a quick hand to react to those pitches,” Polanco said through a translator. After Diamond left the game, Polanco had two more hard hit balls that went to the right-center gap, a little closer to center field. Both were caught, with the second ball resulting in a sacrifice fly that scored Alen Hanson. He just missed a go ahead home run in the bottom of the 8th inning, crushing one foul to right field, again off a left-hander. Adrian Sampson was removed in the third inning today. Adrian Sampson’s Aggressive Promotion Adrian Sampson made his first start of the year for the Marauders, after making a somewhat aggressive jump to high-A. Sampson was a fifth round pick last year, signing for just below slot. He showed some promise last year in State College, putting up a 2.95 ERA and a 44:17 K/BB ratio in 42.2 innings. He flashed a fastball that was 91-94 MPH at times, and paired that with a curveball that was a great out pitch. Despite the numbers and the stuff, the move to high-A was somewhat aggressive. The only other Pirates that have been promoted to high-A in their first full season under this management group have been Gerrit Cole and Justin Wilson. Both pitched for major division I-A colleges, while Sampson threw in JuCo last year. Sampson was removed in the third inning of his first high-A start after giving up six runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings. The final two runs came on a two run homer, which came just after an error that allowed a runner to score. The start wasn’t great before that point, but the error allowed three unearned runs to score, and ended Sampson’s day early, making the start look worse. “I thought he was OK, first time through the lineup,” Frank Kremblas said. “I thought the big blow was, we made an error behind him, and then the two run home run. And that was three runs right there. We make that play and he’s out of the inning.” Sampson was working with his changeup a lot today. He’s been working with pitching coach Justin Meccage on new grips, and trying to slow down the pitch. Sampson mentioned after the game that the speed of the pitch is dropping off and he’s getting some movement. Kremblas felt the pitch looked good today. “He had some nice ones, with some swings and misses on it, which was good,” Kremblas said of the changeup. The best pitch from Sampson is his curveball. He got a strikeout with a curve today, but didn’t use the pitch too often. He was planning on using the curve more in the later innings if the outing would have gone a different direction. As for the fastball, one change for Sampson this year is that he’s pitching from the other side of the rubber. Sampson threw from the first base side last year. He had good downward angle with his pitches. Moving to the third base side gives him a sideward angle, and he still has the downward angle, which adds more movement to his pitches. Sampson mentioned after the game that he felt that made the curveball more efficient. The right-hander was sitting 89-91 MPH today, touching 92. That’s down from the 91-94 MPH that he hit at times last year, although he was inconsistent with his velocity, often working in the 87-91 MPH range. Even without the low-90s fastball, Sampson has some potential. The curveball is a strong out pitch, and he’s got good downward angle on his fastball. A key focus this year will be continuing to improve the changeup. Right now he’s got the look of a pitcher who could have a nice three pitch mix to work with down the line. Dan Grovatt catching a fly ball in the first inning. Notes **Willy Garcia added two more hits today, both singles. Garcia had two hits in Friday’s game, after going 1-for-4 on opening night. That’s good to see early in the season, although all of the hits have been singles so far. **Jacob Stallings launched his second homer of the year in the sixth inning, bringing the score to 7-5 at the time. Stallings also homered on Opening Day, falling a triple short of the cycle that night. Last year he had just one homer in 226 at-bats with State College. Stallings is off to a great start at the plate in his first four games, with a .600 average and two homers. **Dan Grovatt showed off his arm today with a lot of great throws from right field, including one laser to the plate which had the base runner on third retreating to the bag. Grovatt’s biggest strength is his defense in the outfield, highlighted by the arm. He also made a nice play early in the game, ranging all the way to the foul line to catch a pop out in the first inning (pictured to the right). **Alen Hanson had two hits today, with a single and a double. He also had a key stolen base in the eighth inning. Hanson hit a double to bring in a run and bring the Marauders to within one run with one out. He then stole third base, which allowed him to score the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Lewis. **Bradenton is off tomorrow. Eliecer Navarro will take the mound on Tuesday, and will most likely be followed in relief by Zack Von Rosenberg.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

First Pitch: Who Could Step Into the Rotation if Wandy Goes on the DL?

At the start of the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates looked to have a great situation at the top of their rotation. A.J. Burnett had made 31+ starts each year since 2008. Wandy Rodriguez had made 30+ starts each year since 2009. They looked like guys who could give the Pirates a full seasons worth of starts, while potentially putting up 200 innings each. Rodriguez left tonight’s...

Pirates Release Jeremy Farrell

The Pirates released Jeremy Farrell. The Pittsburgh Pirates have released third baseman Jeremy Farrell, according to the latest minor league transactions from Baseball America. Farrell didn’t make either of the top level teams out of Spring Training. In two seasons with Altoona he combined for a .241/.330/.346 line in 610 at-bats. Farrell also had problems staying healthy throughout his career.

Pirates Notebook: Updates on Morton, Liriano, Karstens

Charlie Morton is increasing his pitch count after being placed on the 15-day DL. Greetings from Dodger Stadium, where it should be another beautiful Los Angeles night. Here’s a link to Friday’s recap if you missed it. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle provided updates on some of the team’s injured pitchers: Charlie Morton (elbow) will throw two innings in an extended game Monday...

Minor League Schedule: 4/8/13

Three more pitchers make their season debut today, two of them can be considered sleep prospects, though they are on the opposite ends of the chart. Phil Irwin pitched great last year and was added to the 40-man roster this off-season, putting himself on the map for Pirates fans as a possible call-up during this season. On the opposite end is 19-year-old Tyler Glasnow, who pitched...

Prospect Watch: Glasnow Has Strong Debut, Allie Homers Again

TOP OF THE SYSTEM A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today.  Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. Rankings are from the pre-season rankings, and links to each prospect writeup can be...

Game Six Recap: Dodgers 6 – Pirates 2

The Pittsburgh Pirates jumped out to an early lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. Starling Marte, who was the only Pirate to get a base hit off of Clayton Kershaw in Saturday nights game , led off the game with a single to left field off of MLB rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu got Neil Walker to pop out to shortstop before Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run home run to...

Game 6 Preview: Pirates at Dodgers

Pirates (1-4) at Dodgers (3-2) 4:10 PM–Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles MLB.com Gameday TV: ROOT The Pirates look to avoid a series sweep (or at least avoid a series shutout) today against the Dodgers. They’ve dropped eight straight at Dodger Stadium and have obviously been completely dreadful at the plate so far this year. It’s gotta change some time soon.. Tonight’s starters…...

A win for Wandy

A bittersweet night in Phoenix saw a Pirates win as well as an injury to perhaps the Pirates’ best pitcher.  The Arizona heat warmed up the Pirates’ bats as they scored a season-high 5 runs to give them a 5-3 run over the Diamondbacks. Wandy Rodriguez was standing in the on-deck circle before he had…

Game 5 Preview: No-hitter alert (duh): Pirates at Dodgers

Pirates (1-3) at Dodgers (2-2) 9:10 PM–Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles MLB.com Gameday TV: ROOT The Bucs will look to right the ship tonight out in Los Angeles, but the timing couldn’t be much worse for a matchup against the best pitcher in the NL. The many struggles on offense have been well chronicled so far, but here’s a quick summary: OK, official offensive slashes: 127/.195...

Through the looking glass

Through six games, the Pirates have scored eight runs and allowed 16. That puts them dead last in the NL in runs scored and second in runs allowed. They are 1-5. Through six games, the Diamondbacks have scored 37 runs and allowed 27. That puts them third in the NL in runs scored and ninth in runs allowed. They are 5-1.  If we're being honest, right now I'm more concerned...

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – Game 7

Swept.  It’s embarrassing.  Watching these guys bat actually makes me embarrassed.  Like I’m out there doing it. That guy knows. Someone else who knows a thing or two is Matt Shoemaker.  He is looking for someone to replace Kevin Correia. That should take care of my plugs for this preview. Now it’s on to Arizona.…
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.