Gregory Polanco is the top prospect in the system, and should be up by mid-season.

Winter Leagues: Gregory Polanco Does It Again

While some other Pittsburgh Pirates players are doing well early on in the Winter League season, none of them can match Gregory Polanco. Not only is he the top prospect in the system playing Winter Ball now, he has also tore up the Dominican League through five games and Wednesday night was his best game so far. Polanco is now batting .500 with three homers and eight RBI’s thanks to a 4-for-4 night in his team’s 8-0 win. He doubled, homered, scored three runs, drove in two runs and even drew a walk. Polanco has reached base 13 times in 23 plate appearances.

Gregory Polanco has hits in all five Winter League games

Gregory Polanco has hits in all five Winter League games

Matt Hague went 2-for-4 with two singles last night. He has hits in all five games and is batting .368 in 19 AB’s.

Carlos Paulino went 1-for-3 with a run scored. It was his first start of the season. He had previously batted just once when he caught the last three innings of Sunday’s game.

In Venezuela, Jhondaniel Medina got some mop-up work in out of the bullpen and he did it in the third inning. His team was down 7-0 with men on base when he came into the game. Like the two pitchers before him, Medina took one on the chin. He got two outs, but not before giving up two runs of his own while allowing two inherited runners to score. Medina gave up two hits and a walk. He settled down after that shaky first inning and threw two scoreless innings, allowing two more hits, before being taken out. Medina did not allow a run in his first four appearances.

Elias Diaz got his second start behind the plate. He went 0-for-3 with a walk. He is 1-for-7 in three games.

In Mexico, Ali Solis went 1-for-2 before being pinch hit for in the eighth inning. His team had just three hits in the game, all singles.

The Australian Baseball League starts next Thursday and the Puerto Rico Winter League starts play next Friday.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • leefoo

    The heck with signing Byrd. Maybe we should just make GP our opening day RFer.

  • buster09

    leefoo : there will be those who will say it is just the Dominican Winter League,but now maybe a lot of folks will understand why guys like Keith Law are getting on the band wagon. Which, by the way,Tim Williams got it rolling early. And why I sort of chuckle when I see people saying ” he needs 1 whole season of AAA. ” NO,HE DOESN’T !

    • emjayinTN

      He will need April and May of 2014 to _______________________________________________________. Just fill in the blank as to what type of seasoning he may need, but it will amount to whatever is needed so that we do not let his MLB Service clock start until 2015, and he will remain under Pirate Control until at least through 2020. I would love to see the Pirates play a home game on a Saturday night in early to mid-June and have Jameson Taillon get his first start on the mound and Gregory Polanco get the start in RF.

      • John Dreker

        You only need a couple weeks before that service clock doesn’t matter and you get a seventh season. Evan Longoria avoided it by two days in 2008 by coming up on April 12th

      • buster09

        That is a real dream scenario there emj ! I am telling you,the idea of those 3 guys in that outfield will keep me through the entire Winter. There won’t be another like it in MLB,either league.

  • leadoff

    I had some posts on this subject with Dreker a couple of days ago. Huntington made statements that the Pirates could very well fix some of their problems from within. Pitching has a good chance of getting some internal help, but if you look at the position players, the only position that could be filled from within is RF and the most likely candidate is Polanco, we talked about how important these winter games are for Polanco, just as they were for Marte last year.
    If it were me, I would probably try to get Byrd for one year, if not, I would go with Polanco from the start, I would think the ideal situation for the Pirates is for Byrd to sign for one year and Polanco get more AAA experience, but I do not think it is beyond them to start Polanco at the beginning of the year as they did Marte.
    I do worry about Polanco getting off to a slow start because he is a patient hitter and he will find out that those 2″ pitches off the plate that he lays off of will be strikes, Presley never could adjust those calls.

    • John Dreker

      I think we will see Jose Tabata get the starting nod after his strong finish and Polanco will either come up when he has avoided super two status or earlier if Tabata does poorly. I don’t think they will go out and sign a starting option at a high price, not with Polanco being so close

      • leadoff

        The super two will be a concern for sure.
        It is very possible that Polanco will take the same path as Cole.
        Polanco making the team out of ST is a real possibility and platooning Lambo and Tabata as a real possibility and signing Byrd as a real possibility, one of the three is probably going to happen.

        • John Dreker

          I can’t see him making the Pirates out of Spring. They would be giving up a year of control over getting him to the majors two weeks earlier. That wouldn’t make any sense long-term. Even if he is the best option, playing 7-10 games at AAA won’t hurt him or the 2014 Pirates season. That scenario is the quickest he will be up.

      • csnumber23

        I think we will see a Lambo – Tabata platoon early in the season. I just hope they don’t wait until June if Polanco starts fast at AAA and Lambo struggles. I don’t need to mention Tabata, we know what he is, a 4th or 5th outfielder with no power or speed and gets mediocre average.

        I can’t wait to see the Marte, Cutch, Polanco outfield and I would love to see Polanco starting opening day if he has a big spring training. I don’t think he needs much more AAA time with his approach at the plate and his big time tools.

  • csnumber23

    John, is Polanco playing in RF or CF in the winter league?

    • John Dreker

      He has been in CF. Starling Marte is joining the team later in the season, so it will be interesting to see who plays CF once he arrives.

  • leadoff

    No matter how you slice it, the Pirates could get away without going outside the organization to fix their RF situation.
    I still like the idea of trying to sign Byrd, right handed pop is an important addition to the Pirates lineup, I think they have a chance of getting Byrd for under 10mil.
    I don’t like platoons so my choice of options in RF would be.

  • slendon64

    Here is a scenario I find intriguing. Sign Byrd to play right field. When Polanco is ready to move up, move Byrd to first base. I don’t know if he has ever fielded first base but his bat would be a tremendous upgrade over anything I have read here. He has tremendous defensive skills from the right side and I think he has the savy to make the transition.

    • Dean Manifest

      I kept asking that question after we acquired him. Tabata was pretty hot, and we hadn’t added Morneau yet. And even after we did bring in Morneau it would’ve been nice to start all four right handed OF against lefties.

      The first base market is so grim, they might have to get relative one way or another.

  • Steve Zielinski

    My preference: The Pirates begin the year with a Tabata/Lambo or Snyder platoon in RF; Polanco begins next season playing RF for Indianapolis. If Polanco plays well, promote him to the Majors once he passes the eligibility threshold. Tabata then becomes the fourth outfielder. If Lambo provided the LHed side of the platoon, begin his transition to Firstbase and give him some playing time as the fifth outfielder. If Tabata has Snyder as his platoon partner, Snyder becomes the fifth outfielder.

    We should bear in mind that Polanco did not dominate AA and AAA pitching during his time with Altoona and Indianapolis. Marte, on the other hand, won the EL batting title the year before he moved to Indianapolis. As fans we should give the kids time and the opportunity to become Major League players. It was not that long ago that many fans complained about the Pirates’ development system and its apparent inability to prepare players to succeed when they reached Pittsburgh.

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