Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #3 – Gregory Polanco
The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
20. Jin-De Jhang, C
18. Vic Black, RHP
13. Tony Sanchez, C
11. Clay Holmes, RHP
We continue the countdown with the number 3 prospect, Gregory Polanco.
3. Gregory Polanco, OF
Ever since he made the jump to the US in 2010, Polanco looked like one of the most intriguing prospects in the system. He stood out for his tall, skinny frame and his five tool potential. During the first two years in the system, Polanco looked raw, failing to carry those tools over to the game. There was a big difference in his game heading into the 2012 season.
Polanco entered Spring Training with some extra muscle on his frame. That resulted in a power surge, with the outfielder hitting everyone hard, whether it was left-handers, guys at his level, or Double-A level pitchers. The performance was enough to earn him an aggressive promotion to West Virginia.
Alen Hanson over-shadowed Polanco for the first few months of the season, mostly because of Hanson’s unreal numbers in April. As scouts watched Hanson, they quickly started to notice his teammate. Polanco was consistent, never dropping below an .800 OPS in any month. He really sealed his fate as a top prospect with a monster July, hitting for a .394 average and a 1.051 OPS. By the end of the year there was a debate over which breakout hitter was better, with the edge going to Polanco.
A big reason Polanco gets the edge over Hanson is due to his defense. Both are great hitters. Polanco has a bit of an unusual swing, but he’s got a lot of power from the left side, and above average plate patience, which is rare from a power hitter and rare from a Latin American hitter. He still has some projectability in his frame, which means we could see more power in the future.
There are questions whether Hanson can stick at a premium defensive position, but those questions don’t exist for Polanco. He has a ton of speed due to his long legs. He glides across the outfield, covering a lot of ground. Pairing the range with a plus arm, Polanco has the skills to stick in center field. As a plus defensive, power hitting center fielder with plus speed on the bases, Polanco is one of the most interesting players to watch. That’s not only among prospects, but among every player in the system. He should move to Bradenton in 2013, and could make the jump to Altoona by the end of the year.