Prospect Highlights: A Five-Tool Outfielder By the Name of Tito Polo

When I was ranking the top ten players from the DSL last year, I had a lot of input on the team from first-hand sources and they all praised outfielder Tito Polo, saying he could do anything on the field. I got similar, but slightly lesser reports about outfielder Alexis Bastardo and decided to rank him one spot ahead of Polo for two reasons. Both players are about the same age and same size, so that was a wash there. Bastardo showed more plate patience though and he stayed healthy, while Polo missed games three different times due to hamstring issues. Plate patience is a good sign towards future success and so obviously is health. Well, both players are with the GCL Pirates this year and Polo is putting up the numbers people predicted, while Bastardo has played just twice due to shoulder soreness.

After playing his second season in the DSL last year, Polo also played in the Colombian Winter League for a second straight year and he saw much more playing time than he did the previous year. Not only that, he held his own in the league filled with mostly older players, including a handful of players with Major League experience. He batted .230 in 20 games, with six extra-base hits and he went 5-for-5 in stolen bases, helping his team to a first place finish. Most of the time, he was playing alongside another five-tool Pirates prospect, Harold Ramirez. The fact that Polo has stayed healthy through Winter ball and the early part of the season, is the reason we are seeing him succeed in the GCL this year.

Polo stands 5’11, listed at 180 pounds, which sounds small for a baseball player, but he is a physical specimen. He stole 22 bases last year and that was with hamstring issues for most of the season. He can field, throw, hit for some power and should be able to hit for average, as long as he doesn’t get himself out by chasing pitches. I heard an early report from the GCL that he was swinging at everything, yet he has drawn eight walks in 16 games, so there is some plate patience in his game. Polo has a .321/.415/.518 slash line this year, with seven extra-base hits, three stolen bases and three outfield assists.

He is definitely a player to follow this year in the GCL and assuming he plays Winter ball again, we will cover his off-season daily here. You can never have too many five-tool outfielders in your system and Polo seems to be adjusting well to the move to the United States so far.

Courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page, we have three videos of Polo from this week. Not exactly the most exciting at-bats, but it’s a first look at him for many people and we will have more video of him in the near future.

At-bat #2

Showing some plate patience

John Dreker

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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  • Lee Young

    Just on the name alone…If he gets lots of bases on balls, can we call him “Walko Polo”?

    I’m sorry….that was awful….. :(

    • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

      That was waaaay worse than my Lizzy Borden one Lee!

  • CalipariFan506

    We have so many talented young outfielders with so much in common. Even down to the bad hamstrings!

  • freddylang

    I was looking at some stats last night and at Jhondaniel Medina has not given up a run since April. He has a 1.13 era for the year. Walks are still high but great ground to air ratio and high k’s. Looks like a steal getting him for Yamaico Navaro. Rememebr him?

    • freddylang

      He’s small but that means nothing for a reliever…especially one that throws 93-94.

    • Lee Young

      one negative…he has walked 20 in 34 inn.

      • freddylang

        Yes Lee and his walks have stayed static. They have not improved despite the streak. One good thing is he is 21 and he has never shown horrendous control like Andy Oliver. Yamaico Navaro by the way is blowing u the Korean league for what it’s that is worth. 19 HR at midseason. Near 1.000 OPS. He’ll probably end up being a decent Util in the MLB. Hes still only 26.

        • John Dreker

          I really liked Medina last year for WV. Not many relief prospects at that level, but he looked like he could be something. I definitely wouldn’t rule out him making the Majors at some point, but as a reliever, his prospect value will always be low

          • freddylang

            There are definitely not a lot of small pitchers out there anymore but if they throw hard and can get high strikeouts they are worth looking at. I always think of Scott Williamson from the Reds when I see a small guy. He was probably 180 when he first came up but he could bring early on. It quickly faded with injuries and torqueing that arm with the small frame but he was able to get huge k numbers for a few years. Medina is similar to Williamson with similar size, the velocity, the slider, and the k’s and moderate control problems. We can only hope. Williamson had the one dominant post season with Boston too. He was fun to watch.

  • duckwoes

    Well if ya wanna talk nicknames then surely Jhondaniel’s should be Funky Cold. Ton Loc anyone??

  • RB

    I really enjoy these articles that help me sort out the players at the lower levels of the minors. It is always interesting to learn who is highly thought of and who to keep an eye on.