How Good Are The Pitchers Facing Gregory Polanco?

A popular question during the Winter League season is “How good are these leagues the Pirates players are competing in?” When a player like Gregory Polanco starts tearing up the league, people question how good the pitchers are that he is facing. It happened last year with Starling Marte when he was picking up Player of the Week awards consistently in the Dominican. So I broke down the competition just so people could see who Marte was playing against. With Polanco at nearly the same stage in his development that Marte was at in 2011, when he hit .328 with an .836 OPS in 30 games in the DWL, it’s a good time to break down the pitchers he has faced.

Gregory Polanco

Gregory Polanco is tearing up the Dominican Winter League

Polanco has 64 plate appearances so far this season. He is hitting .358 with five doubles, four homers, 11 walks and a 1.148 OPS in 14 games. He has also reached base at least once  in every game his team has played, collecting hits in 13 straight before going 0-for-3 with a walk on Sunday. So the stats are off the charts early on in the year, but who exactly are these pitchers giving up all these hits? It is hard to give people an exact estimate of the talent because it is such a diverse talent pool. He could face a major leaguer one at-bat and a Low-A pitcher the next time up.

Below is a recap of every plate appearance, with an asterisk next to left-handed pitchers. The pitchers top level in 2013 is listed next to their name. For guys who played in the Mexican League, they are listed as Triple-A, which is the accepted level for the league. Other players are former pro players (including a couple former major leaguers) that only player Winter ball now. They are listed as None.

Game One

1. Jose Contreras, MLB – Fly out to CF

2. Contreras – Walk

3. Atahualpa Severino*, AAA – Home Run

4. Leuris Gomez, AA – Single

Game Two

5.  Bruce Billings, AAA – Strikeout

6. Billings – Pop out to shortstop

7. Felix Diaz, AAA- Home Run

8. Jerry Gil, AAA – Line out to CF

Game Three

9. Hector Noesi, MLB – Strikeout

10. Noesi – Double

11. Noesi – Ground out

12. A. Severino* – Strikeout

Game Four

13. Omar Javier, AA – Double

14. Javier – Strikeout

15. Javier – Double

16. Luis Liria, A+ – Walk

17. Rafael Cruz, None – Strikeout

18. Francisco Samuel, None – Ground out

Game Five

19. Dustin Richardson*, AAA- Double

20. Richardson* – Single

21. Ramon Pena, A+ – Single

22. Frank Batista, AA – Walk

23. Ricardo Gomez, AAA – Home Run

Game Six

24. Eliah Villanueva, AAA – Single

25. Villanueva – Ground out

26. Adalberto Mendez, AAA – Strikeout

27. Bruedlin Suero*, A+ – Pop out to shortstop

Game Seven

28. Lorenzo Barcelo, AAA – Strikeout

29. Barcelo – Strikeout

30.  Barcelo – Single

31. Johan Yan, AAA – Fly out to CF

Game Eight

32.  Kyler Newby, AAA – Double

33. Newby – Strikeout

34. Franquelis Osoria, None – Strikeout

35. Kelvin Perez, AAA – Line out to CF

36. Erick Abreu, AAA – Ground out to 2B

Game Nine

37.  Jeff Mandel, AAA – Ground out to P

38. Mandel – Single

39. Roman Colon, AAA – Strikeout

Game Ten

40. Robbie Ross*, MLB – Single

41. Claudio Vargas, AAA – Strikeout

42. Jhan Marinez, AAA – Fly out to CF

43. Mike Marbry, AA – Ground out to SS

44. Buddy Baumann*, AAA – Pop out to 3B

Game Eleven

45. B. Billings – Walk

46. B. Billings –  Single

47. Jose Pina, AAA – Grand Slam

48. Wander Perez*,  None – Strikeout

49. Rommie Lewis*, None – Ground out to 2B

50. Marcos Mateo, AAA – Walk

51. Wirfin Obispo, AAA – Walk

Game Twelve

52. Yunesky Maya, MLB – Line out to RF

53. Maya – Walk

54. A. Severino* –  Walk

55. Manny Delcarmen, AAA – Single

Game Thirteen

56. J. Mandel – Walk

57. J. Mandel – Foul out to RF

58. J.Mandel – Single

59. Pedro Viola*, AAA – Strikeout

60. Ramon Ramirez, MLB – Walk

Game Fourteen

61. Chris Volstad, MLB – Ground out to 1B

62. Volstad – Walk

63. Ramon Ortiz, MLB – Pop out to 2B

64. Luis Vasquez, AAA – Fly out to RF

The Final Numbers And Analysis

Here are Polanco’s numbers against pitchers from each level.

MLB Pitchers: 3-for-8, 4 BB

Triple-A: 13-for-32, 3 HR, 5 BB

Double-A: 4-for-6, BB

A-Ball and Lower: 1-for-2, BB

Against players who didn’t play pro ball in 2013, he has gone 0-for-5. This is a tough group to categorize. They are usually guys who made it at least to AAA and haven’t played affiliated ball recently, but they are still active in the Winter Leagues. As mentioned above, there are some veterans in this group with major league experience.

Against left-handed pitchers, Polanco is 4-for-10 with a double and homer.

The basic finding is that the large majority of the players he is facing pitched in Triple-A this season, with some current and former major league players mixed in there. It obviously isn’t as good as what he will face with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it is fairly equal to what he would see in a Triple-A season. With any small sample size, you can’t take too much from the numbers, but you get an idea of the type of pitchers he (and other players in the Dominican) are facing this off-season.

Author: 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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