Prospect Hunting: Gregory Polanco

“We all want to see George Springer, Gregory Polanco, Francisco Lindor right away, but the arbitration spiral tells us why they must wait.” Peter Gammons

What impact can winter league MVP and prospect Polanco have in 2014?

What impact can winter league MVP and prospect Polanco have in 2014?

It feels like there is an inordinate amount of talent is ready to step forward and contribute to teams in 2014. While the Reds seem committed to putting Billy Hamilton in center field, teams like the Astros and Pirates are more likely to wait until the super two date passes before calling up prospects Springer and Polanco. That being said, prospects are a mixed bag of hope and disappointments but entice fantasy owners everywhere. What is helping Polanco is that he is already on the 40 man roster, was the MVP of his winter league and the Pirates need for a corner outfielder who can bat second.

With the recent publication of prospect lists here is how Polanco stacks up: our own Matt Cott’s Top 125 has him at number 26, Baseball Prospectus Professor Parks has him at 24th, while ESPN’s Keith Law and MLB.com both list him at 13. On MLB.com’s top 100 Polanco was compared to Darryl Strawberry probably because of their similar builds and skill sets, although there are some differences when their minor league numbers are compared below. Strawberry possessed more power while Polanco has more speed and a more patient approach at the plate. According to Keith Law Polanco has a 70 grade for speed out of the batter’s box and can be seen in the clip here courtesy of Ben Badler beating a ground ball to second base for a hit. Included on that clip is a home run that Polanco hit to right field and you can see his shortened swing which should provide more contact and the growing power potential that enhances his status.

Gregory Polanco – OF – Pittsburgh Pirates – 6’4” 204 Bats/Throws: L/L

Player Results      

G

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG/OBP/SLG

BB

K

Polanco 2013

127

66

16

67

19

285/356/434

52

73

Polanco Winter League

44

28

5

28

7

331/428/494

30

34

Strawberry Age 21 (Mets)

122

63

26

74

19

257/336/512

47

128

While Polanco and Strawberry are of a similar build, there are some comparisons with the arm but at the same age, Strawberry already had his power component developed while Polanco has a much more mature batting approach. After struggling in the 2012 winter league, Polanco made the appropriate adjustments this year which can serve him well going forward. It is because of his patience that he would be a natural to slot in behind Marte batting second and in front of McCutchen once he is promoted. That is one dynamic top three with a blend of power and speed which would apply pressure to any pitcher. What can also help Polanco’s call for a promotion is his glove and arm which is projectable to right field. Here are some of Polanco’s projections for 2014:

Polanco Projection

PA

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG/OBP/SLG

2014 ZiPS

553

65

11

59

30

261/309/392

2014 Oliver

534

75

16

67

19

260/333/414

These are pretty aggressive projections for a player who only has 9 at bats in AAA. Because of the time it took Polanco to adjust to the winter league suggests that the Pirates may allow him more time to grow at AAA. This may not only benefit Polanco, but it will delay the arbitration clock that Peter Gammons alluded to. With only Travis Snider, Andrew Lambo and Jose Tabata holding Polanco back, I am willing to gamble that Polance will be up in June. With a big spring training and great first month in AAA, Polanco could be up as soon as May to give the Pirates one of the most athletic outfields in baseball.

Although Polanco is being projected to be able to hit 25 home runs at his peak, that will emerge later in his career. During his minor league time last year he had an OPS of 472 at high A over 241 at bats, but saw that number drop to 407 in 286 at bats in AA. His 494 OPS in winter league is a sign of encouragement and highlights what his potential could be. But the power will probably be the last part of his game to develop. As Charles Kurz of Roto Analysis said, Polanco will not be a superstar but he is going to be a great fantasy player for years to come. If Polanco can claim the number spot in the Pirates lineup he will be a contributor to fantasy teams as early as this year. When giving my projections, I will do one for a May promotion for the aggressive player and the more realistic June promotion. With the talent that exists in Pittsburgh, it will be an added bonus when teams are looking to add pieces around the All Star break that they can dip down to their farm system instead of over paying a veteran.

Gregory Polanco Projections

G

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG/OBP/SLG

May Promotion

135

67

13

56

27

265/350/410

June Promotion

110

49

9

41

20

265/350/410

Polanco’s current NFBC ADP is 384 and he was not selected in the FSTA draft earlier this month. Fantasy owners in NL leagues know who he is, but if you have room to stash him late in a deep mixed league or NFBC draft, Polanco could pay big dividends. He could be a Coco Crisp type player right now given the chance to play in Pittsburgh.

Greg Jewett is a staff writer for Roto Analysis and you can follow us on Twitter @RotoAnalysis and @gjewett9!

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Video clips courtesy of FromForbestoFederal.com, statistics courtesy of Fangraphs.com, MILB.com and Baseball-Reference.com.

Gregory Polanco picture credit: http://www.gammonsdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/gregory-polanco.jpg

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Prospect Hunting: Gregory Polanco Part 2 | Roto Analysis - June 5, 2014

    [...] 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. [...]

  2. FSWA Draft Recap: Part 2 | Roto Analysis - March 16, 2014

    [...] with occasional power will make him a coveted player in this type of format. I profiled Polanco here and he should be up no later than June hopefully hitting second for the Pirates. My last pick is [...]

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