Gregory Polanco Takes Home MVP and ROY Awards

On Monday afternoon, the Dominican Winter League announced that Gregory Polanco won both the Most Valuable Player and the Rookie of the Year awards. Polanco helped his Leones del Escogido team to a 31-19 record, the best in the Dominican Winter League.

Polanco finished with a .331 batting average, losing the batting title on the last day by two points. He led the league with a .922 OPS, the only player in the league with an OPS over the .900 mark. He also led the league with 28 runs scored and 55 base hits. Polanco had ten doubles, one triple, five homers and stole seven bases in eight attempts. He drove in 28 runs and drew 28 walks. Possibly the most impressive part about his season is that he missed games early on with the flu and family issues, then a few weeks later, he missed a week with a stomach virus, so he wasn’t at 100% all season.

The regular season is over in the Dominican, but Polanco still hopes his off-season is far from done. Polanco and Starling Marte will begin their playoffs on Friday night, competing in a round robin tournament among the four best teams in the Dominican League. The two best from the round robin tournament go on to a championship series and the winner of that series will head to the Caribbean Series, where they will meet the best teams from the Winter leagues in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

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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  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Given how tall Polanco is (6’4″??), could he end up adding some additional weight (sort of like what happened with Bonilla), and grown into a power hitting RFer, who also happens to have above average speed?

    • John Dreker

      Most people say they expect him to be a 20-25 homer guy when he is done filling out. His speed is good enough that you might see a 25/40 HR/SB guy at his best. Plus he will be one of the best defenders in RF, since he is an above average CF as it is

      • http://www.facebook.com/ian.rothermund Ian Rothermund

        As far as a note on his speed…

        I’ve seen in an article on this site that his speed rating is considered an 8/8 on the scouting scale. That’s really exceptional speed. While it may not be that way if he gets up around 230, it’s not likely that he’ll downgrade to the point of only being considered “above average.” Really exciting stuff, especially as a regular reader that came on right about the time Polanco came over to the U.S..

        I’d love to see a McCutchen, Marte, Polanco race.

        • John Dreker

          Polanco has deceptive speed because he has long legs. If you watch him run, he doesn’t look fast, but he covers a lot of ground with each step. I wouldn’t describe him at an 80 speed player, I’d say 70 just because there are some faster players out there. A race between the three would be exciting to say the least. The amount of ground the three will cover in the outfield will be even more exciting for fans

        • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

          They would finish 1 Marte 2. Polanco 3. McCutchen

  • CalipariFan506

    I know this site does not like to compare prospects to established players but is a guy like Carlos Gonzalez somebody that Polanco reminds you of?

    • John Dreker

      There are some similarities but Gonzalez doesn’t have great BB/K rates and doesn’t have the speed of Polanco. Gonzalez probably has more power too, don’t think you will see any 34 homer seasons from Polanco, or 26 in 110 games like Gonzalez did this year.

      • jon6er

        If he hits that many I hope it isn’t because he is trying to be a home run hitter. That ruins so many young players when they get caught up in that. But he is capable of eventually hitting 20 or more and still have a lot of doubles and triples. I saw some video highlights of them and he looked like he wouldn’t get to balls in center because of those long strides but he got there easy. Amazing kid really!

  • piraterican21

    I’m well aware that the DWL is not close to MLB, but what a boost it will be if Polanco duplicates this feat and becomes ROY/MVP this year for our beloved Bucs! This kid has the chance to become our best player since Barry Bonds!

  • csnumber23

    I agree with John, this kid should be starting in right field at PNC around April 15th. Right after he is locked in for 7 years of control. As long as he looks good in spring training and the first 2 weeks at AAA this should be the plan and I think it is. The kid is too dynamic and too well rounded to wait any longer.

    • PiratesFan1975

      He would actually have to be down a little longer than that to gain the 7th year. Since he is already on the 40 man roster he has to be down for at least 20 days or he gets service time credit for the option to AAA. I think April 20th would be the key date since the season starts March 31st.

      • John Dreker

        I think a bunch of people will be disappointed when Polanco is cut during Spring Training. I’m not sure of the exact date, but there is a cut-off to send him down or risk him gaining service time. If a player gets injured while in big league camp, he will need to be put on the major league DL, which would help him accrue service time. For most people, it will be earlier than they hoped, though it is obviously a smart move on the part of the team.
        While I think he is ready for the majors now, I doubt we will see him at the earliest date possible to gain a seventh year, as mentioned in the previous message. I think the fact they kept Snider for his high salary, is proof that they will give him a shot to see what he can do. Playing part-time, I doubt 2-3 weeks is long enough for that.

        • csnumber23

          John, I hope you are wrong but I won’t be surprised if you are correct. While I still have some hope for Snider, I don’t want to see him or Tabata on the field over Polonco. Whatever the date is to gain the 7th year is the day I hope to see him. I wander if Snider or Decker could play any first base? Doubtful but it would be a help.

  • rburgh

    The usual cutoff date for “super 2’s” is mid-June. We will almost surely see Polanco in PNC around then.

    • csnumber23

      You are probably right but I am holding out hope that they won’t wait for June and the super 2 cutoff. I am hoping they bring him up after the cutoff for the 7 years of control. I doubt they will unless injury or Snider-Tabata combo is horrendous.

  • sixdeuces

    Gregory Polanco is the Most Valuable Player and the Rookie of the Year in the Dominican Winter League! What a great early Christmas present.

  • Nuke Laloosh

    John, How good is the competition in the DWL?

    • John Dreker

      Early in the year, we posted this article about the level of competition, figuring out that it is about the same as AAA http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/how-good-are-the-pitchers-facing-gregory-polanco.html

      We did the same thing for Starling Marte last year and got the same basic answer, so that proves it’s not just a small sample size. The competition in the league does get better as the season goes along too. Many of the better players either don’t start playing until December by choice, or they aren’t allowed due to rules on how many games/innings they can pitch during the regular season and still be allowed to play Winter ball before December 1st. It’s called the Extreme Fatigue Rule and is agreed upon by MLB and the Winter Leagues.

      So early in the year, he was facing what would equal an average AAA pitcher, while now, he will be seeing guys with major league experience more often.