GREGORY POLANCO
CENTER FIELDER
  Born: September 14, 1991
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 206
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Signed: Int. FA, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2009
How Acquired: Int. FA
Country: Dominican Republic
Agent: N/A

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Polanco started off with the Pirates as a tall, lean, athletic outfielder with excellent speed. The Pirates thought he had power potential, but initially he didn’t show a great deal of hitting ability.  He has the speed and athleticism to play center and also has a very good arm.  He’s also shown good base stealing ability.  By 2012 he’d filled out some–without losing the speed–and had a breakout year at the plate.

2009
DSL:  267/370/357, 221 AB, 8 2B, 6 3B, 33 BB, 50 K, 12-16 SB

Had respectable first season as the regular right fielder in the DSL, including lots of walks but also lots of strikeouts.  He hit for only gap power.

2010
R:  202/245/287, 188 AB, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 BB, 41 K, 19-21 SB

Struggled in GCL, although he did start to show some power, with three HRs.  He finished tied for fourth in the GCL in steals, while getting caught only twice.  His walk and strikeout numbers, though, were very bad.

2011
R:  237/333/361, 169 AB, 4 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 24 BB, 33 K, 18-18 SB
A-:  100/100/100, 10 AB, 2 K

Back in the GCL, Polanco showed improvement, especially in his strike zone judgment.  He split time in center with Willy Garcia and also played right, and had eight outfield assists total.  He was perfect as a base stealer.  The Pirates moved him up to State College at the end of the season and he got into three games there.

2012
A:  325/388/522, 437 AB, 26 2B, 6 3B, 16 HR, 44 BB, 64 K, 40-55 SB

Polanco had a breakout season and established himself as one of the better hitting prospects in the minors.  Unlike Alen Hanson, who got off to a huge start and then cooled off, Polanco started fairly well and kept improving.  His OPS was .822 before the South Atlantic League All-Star game and 1.030 after.  His overall numbers might have been even more impressive if he hadn’t missed over half of August with an ankle injury.  He destroyed LHPs, with an OPS of 1.087 against them, compared to .850 against RHPs.  His plate discipline was very good.  His base stealing efficiency wasn’t quite as good as previously.  Baseball America rated him the 3rd best prospect in the South Atlantic League.

2013
A+:  312/364/472, 218 AB, 17 2B, 6 HR, 16 BB, 37 K, 24-28 SB
AA:  263/354/407, 243 AB, 13 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 36 BB, 36 K, 13-20 SB
AAA:  222/222/222, 9 AB, 1-1 SB

Polanco didn’t have quite as outstanding a season as in 2012, but he had a strong enough year to make his way through three levels.  He spent the first half at Bradenton and put up strong numbers.  The Pirates promoted him in June and he hit respectably at Altoona, especially for a 21-year-old, but never quite got on a hot streak.  He was significantly more patient in AA, possibly a matter of feeling his way against better pitching.  He struggled against LHPs on the year, posting only a .693 OPS against them, but like his reverse split the year before it may have been happenstance more than anything.  Scouting reports on Polanco continued to be very good, although there’s some question whether hell have more than average power in the majors.  He impressed scouts in the field as well and profiles as an above-average center fielder.  Of course, he won’t be playing center in Pittsburgh any time soon, but an outfield of Polanco, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen could be extraordinary defensively.  Perhaps in preparation for that, Polanco played six games in right and three in left for Altoona.  Otherwise, he played center all year.  The Pirates promoted him to AAA for the last couple games of the season and the playoffs.

Polanco will open 2014 at Indianapolis at age 22.  If he starts well in AAA, he could earn a promotion by mid-season, particularly if the Pirates’ chronic inability to find even replacement level performance in right field continues.  The Pirates added Polanco to the 40-man roster in the off-season.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2014: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $150,000
MiLB Debut: 2009
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2013
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
April 11, 2009: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.
November 20, 2013: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.