Living in Syracuse does not have many perks. Raising a son does not leave me the time I wish to have to scout more players as they come through our AAA affiliate as I would wish but tonight provided an opportunity that I could not pass up. While it is very difficult to navigate the conflicting reports about when Gregory Polanco will be promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates, I was provided with the opportunity to watch him in person last night. This was a great chance to not only see him in person but share a night at the park with my son who actually had the night off from baseball himself.
I will include two different clips from his at bats and for your viewing pleasure. I was sitting two rows behind the Indianapolis Indians dugout so the videos are from the side of the batter’s box but show his patience and simple approach to hitting. After the adjustments he has made in Winter League, Polanco is ready to move up to the majors. He did not catch a ball in right field that he could have had by diving and also did not run at full speed from second base to score on a single. As a coach he looked to me like someone who did not want to risk an injury knowing he will not be in AAA much longer. How long he stays is up to the Pirates but he batted leadoff and was three for six with a double and three runs scored. First, here were his stats heading into the game:
Gregory Polanco AAA: 56 G, 42 R, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 14 SB 353/412/552
With the recent success of minor league players transitioning to the majors, if he is available in your league and you have bench space, the time to add him is now with the impending promotion. Here is the link to his second at bat:
Polanco does load his hands well and is quietly efficient in his swing plane. After being spun off the plate he responded by driving the ball up the middle for a base hit and recovered after reaching on the foul ball during the at bat. What I liked was his approach at the plate. He was patient waiting for a pitch to drive and did not try to do too much with it. It seems that batting leadoff will suit him well when he is with the Pirates and he is adjusting to the role well. When a leadoff hitter’s job is to “BOB” be on base as I was instructed as a player, his 400+ OBP will play well at the next level. While this will drop some in the major leagues with better competition, it should allow him to avoid long slumps with his ability to hit line drives to the gap and go with the pitch. For an abbreviated video clip just of his swing for the hit click this link:
I have already done a preview on Gregory Polanco detailing his winter league stats and projections for the major leagues here if you follow the link here.
On a side note, what I liked the most about him is that he knew kids were there to attain his autograph, but unlike other prospects I have seen come through here, he went over and signed them with a smile. Not only am I a fan of his talent, but my son will be a fan of his going forward. Speaking of forward, here are his Oliver projections according to Fangraphs.com:
Oliver – 143 G, 75 R, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 19 SB 260/333/418
Obviously Polanco is not going to play in 143 games this season as the Pirates have already played 59 games and presently sitting at 28-31 for the year. It stands to reason that promoting Polanco would not only boost ticket sales on the upcoming home stand, but also raise morale by adding talent that will help the team win going forward. It is not my place to speculate on if the Pirates need Polanco but I think his time is near. As for a projection, I could see him hitting 8-10 home runs going forward and stealing 18-20 bases if he plays the last 100 games or so. But if the Pirates want to make a run at the playoffs again, they need a more stabile pitching staff to go along with Polanco but I think Pittsburgh has seen enough of the Jose Tabata/Travis Snider platoon.
Greg Jewett is a staff writer for Roto Analysis and you can follow us on Twitter @RotoAnalysis and @gjewett9