Scout: Gregory Polanco has a chance to be a star

With the media and fan attention that has been thrown at Gregory Polanco, almost everything has been said about the super prospect. With this kind of attention comes Major League pressure. The pressure and the attention allow some people to forget that Polanco is only 22. In fact, he has had only five at bats this season against pitchers who are younger than him.

The numbers don’t lie for Polanco, with an OPS of 1.015 through 36 games with Triple-A Indianapolis. In addition, he has only struck out 29 times in 144 at bats. He also boasts an on base percentage of .425. The impressive statistical list goes on, but there is one thing that the organization would like to see Polanco do to help the preparation for the big leagues – fail some.

Prior to going 2-for-4 with a home run and a double on Monday, Polanco was mired in a mini slump. He had three out of four games where he went hitless. He was 1-for-16 with three walks over the span. How Polanco responds to this adversity is something that the Pirates brass is quite mindful of, as dry stretches are a guarantee at the big league level. For Polanco himself, he is aware that slumps and cold spells will come.

“Baseball is hard,” Polanco said. “Hitting is very hard and nobody is perfect. I know that I am going to get a game with no hits. (I have to) keep playing and keep working hard, no matter what.”

To avoid slumps like this, Polanco has been working on eliminating holes from his game. One aspect that he is working on at the plate is keeping back on the off speed pitches against tough lefties.

“(With) the left-handed pitching, trying to stay a little bit more back to let the ball carry deep,” Polanco said. “(I am trying) to hit a little bit more to the opposite field.”

With this in mind, one of Polanco’s toughest games of the season came on April 19 against crafty southpaw Jeff Francis. In that game, Polanco went 0-for-3 against Francis with two strikeouts and a weakly hit groundout to first. For Polanco, it is about improving and getting better every day and every plate appearance, regardless of who it is against.

“I’m working on the off speed, like change ups and curve balls,” Polanco said. “It’s hard right now, but I am working every day to get better.”

Polanco is also working hard on his defensive game in Indianapolis. Comfort going back on balls and locating the warning track are two aspects that Polanco listed as focuses.

Scout view

One American League scout, who saw Mike Trout in the minor leagues as well, provided an assessment about the comparison to Polanco.

“I think that Mike Trout was better,” the scout said. “He had off the chart speed and his defense was just off the chart as well.”

Though the scout viewed Trout as slightly more polished at this point in their careers, he said that Polanco “has got a chance to be a star.” The scout pointed to a triple that Polanco had in Saturday night’s game against Kevin Gausman, a top prospect in the Baltimore system.

“On that triple, he just has another gear from first to third,” the scout said. “He’s a big, strong physical kid who can run.”

In addition, another aspect of the game that Polanco possesses stands out – power. The scout said that the power production in the big leagues is what will make Polanco a star. He said that he has all of the other tools necessary for his designation. Of Polanco’s 52 hits, 19 have been for extra bases this season.

Though Polanco will likely go through an adjustment period in Pittsburgh, the question will be how quickly his talent catches up to the talent around him.

“Right now, he is just more talented than players around here,” the scout said. “He will see much better pitching. He is still so young even for this league. There will be adjustments like how he will handle left on left.”

Eyes on Pittsburgh

With the Major Leagues so close, Polanco is visibly ready for the call. The information that leaked about him declining the seven-year deal last week just fueled that anticipation.

“I know that it is difficult, but I have to wait until the time comes,” Polanco said. “I have to play every day hard and wait for it.”

When it comes to all of the ‘Free Polanco’ campaigns, Polanco is extremely happy with the fan support and is just eager to show them what they have been waiting for in Pittsburgh.

“I know that a lot of people support me every day,” Polanco said. “Just let it happen.”

In another month, there will be no more ‘Free Polanco’ campaign or speculation about his Major League debut; this day will become reality. Where everyone has their opinion about what the future holds for Polanco, I can say that he is one of the most talented Triple-A prospects I have ever seen. He is so graceful with every movement and every swing. One thing is for sure, Polanco is going to special, and we will be able to sit back and enjoy come mid-June.

Ryan Palencer

Author: Ryan Palencer

Ryan joined Pirates Prospects as the Indianapolis Triple-A writer in 2014. Prior to joining Pirates Prospects, Ryan covered high school, college and professional sports in the Indianapolis area. For more updates throughout the season, follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpalencer.

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  • https://profiles.google.com/101510909979106143098 David Lewis

    June 9. Cubs visit Pirates on a Monday evening. Book your tickets now for Polanco’s debut.

    • lonleylibertarian

      Too early – Neal won’t risk it – My guess is he plays it safe and waits for the Rays series in Tampa – call him up and let him DH a game or two then debut in PNC against the Mets the next weekend.

  • mysonisnamedafterRoberto

    19 extra hits in 144 plate appearance, 13% of his at bats are extra bases that is ridiculous. Those numbers are Colorado Rockies type numbers.

  • letsgopitt123

    Holy shit!!! No way!?!? I never would have guessed

    • johndw28

      cmon no need for that. I think Ryan was simply providing some interesting, specific commentary from a scout who does this for a living which validates what a lot of people see in Polanco.

  • leadoff

    It is amazing that the most talented player in the Pirate system is in AAA and he is followed by another group of highly talented players in Bell, Rameriz and Meadows. Watching Polanco play you have to wonder just how good he can get, he reminds me of Dave Parker when Parker came up to the majors. I can see why Marte signed a contract as fast as he did, keeping a job in Pittsburgh is going to be hard to do for an outfielder.

    • deacs

      If they bump up the offer – we’ll just say 5 million or so more guaranteed, do you think he’ll take the deal or do you think he’s listening to everything that people are saying? He seems to have a good head on his shoulders but if he believes everything he reads then why would he sign an extension like the one they offered – even if it’s upwards of 50-60 mllion? I wonder what his agent is telling him. Hopefully they increase the offer and he realizes if he’s anywhere near as good as he can be this won’t be his last contract etc.

  • R Edwards

    Barring injury, Polanco WILL be a star – I have no doubts.

    Speaking of injuries, does anyone know the latest on Meadows or Barnes? Is either one due back soon?

    Also, what is the status of the Indian pitcher – Patel – is he hurt? How about Nick Buckner? Is he being held back in Bradenton – to be assigned to Jamestown next month?

    • pilbobuggins

      Patel is recovering from tommy john. Not sure about the others , sorry.

      • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

        Singh is recovering, Patel went back to india after being cut

  • SteveW

    The amazing thing about Mike Trout – and why there really is no comparison at this point – is that he is exactly the same age as Polanco. Yet he is in his third full MLB season and is arguably the best player in the game right now.

    • st1300b

      Important that you say at this point. They both have potentially long careers to battle it out. I hope that they become our Rivals in the AL for championships. Still got enough St. Louis in them to make me hate’em.
      I think Cole amps up when he pitches against them, at least he did last time. If you’re gonna dream, dream big. This team with Polanco is better. Period. With the pitching we have, we will be competitive by the end of the year.
      I think we can contend – and we’ll see what happens, but I think we need a SS. Drew after the draft – a trade – or be ultra agressive and promote Hanson – or if you need to get things done on the cheap then promote Michael Martinez. I was hoping he wasn’t but he is an upgrade on Jordy Mercer – At this time.

      • stickyweb

        OK, even stinking, Jordy is hitting better this year than Michael Martinez’s best MLB production, plus Mercer’s playing good defense (pretty much the only Buc you can say that about). Martinez is barely hitting better in AAA than Jordy is in the NL, but at 31 years old, MM’s gonna put it all together? I doubt it. Oh, and Jordy’s been the best Bucco hitter (with more than 6 ABs) the last week. Let him ride out his hot streak and see where he is when it’s over. We’ve waited this long for him to get hot, no sense in yanking the rug out from under him when he’s finally hitting well. Especially for an unproven prospect or a proven utility player.

      • Y2JGQ2

        no he’s not- not when Jordy hits. And he is now. Hanson is a defensive disaster at this point in his career. Team is better with Polanco, no doubt. lets just see if we can creep up to .500 without him in the next 3 weeks. After the draft i have no problem in signing Drew, as long as we release Barmes

  • Monsoon Harvard

    So, is this scouts name ‘Captain Obvious’?

    • pilbobuggins

      Good one, also comparing anyone to trout is unfair to anyone. Trout is in a class by himself.

      • Y2JGQ2

        True….my response is simply, “duh” wow, what insight, he has a chance to be a star…..a top prospect in the whole organization???? wow, what a surprise

  • pilbobuggins

    I find myself in agreement with lonely,which by the way is doing much better lately and is actually pleasant to read and talk to. Kudo’s to you lonely you deserve a pat on the back. Patpatpat.

    • stickyweb

      Yes he’s much better when the Bucs are playing well. Let’s hope it continues.

  • pilbobuggins

    One side note, it looks like the rangers are having fried penguin again. It’s early in the first but the pens don’t look good. Hopefully i’ m wrong it just don’t look to good.

  • johndw28

    Srsly so so sick of this bs. May lose a game because we have an infielder in right field as the best prospect in baseball refines his game in aaa. Just ridiculous at this point in time especially with marte hurt.

    • Y2JGQ2

      JHAY is hitting about .400 lately when playing in the outfield. Not saying i don’t agree with you, but he’s hitting extremely well. I don’t know if mediocre outfielders like tabata or snider do much better

  • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

    Really a scout said that?