One of the things that stood out to me in Spring Training this year were the amount of tall, lean, speedy, projectable outfielders the Pittsburgh Pirates had playing for their Gulf Coast League affiliate. One of those players was Gregory Polanco. Polanco is 6′ 4″, 170 pounds, and is currently playing in his second season at the GCL level. Last year he struggled with a .202/.245/.287 line in 188 at-bats in his jump to the GCL. This year the results haven’t been much better.
Polanco currently has a .241/.348/.352 line in 54 at-bats in the GCL. He has nine stolen bases, after stealing 19 in 2010. He’s also been impressive with an 8:10 K/BB ratio, cutting his strikeout rate down to 14.8%, from 21.8% in 2010. Recently he’s been on a hot streak, with a .361/.429/.528 line in 36 at-bats over his last ten games.
The most important thing to keep in mind with Polanco is that he’s just 18 years old. He’s very raw, but shows good speed, which allows him to play center field, and which makes him a threat on the bases due to his base running instincts. He has a lean, athletic body, and if he can add some muscle, he might add power to the mix. He’s definitely a project, just like most international players in the lower levels, although the tools are definitely there for him to succeed. His recent hot streak has been very encouraging, and if he can keep it up, he might find himself making the jump to State College in 2012.