If you have been reading the site the last few days, you have read a lot about Gregory Polanco. The Pittsburgh Pirates top hitting prospect was featured on the site on Friday, then went out and homered in the season opener. The next day, he hit his second homer, then on Sunday, he had a down day and only hit an RBI double. On Monday, Polanco was listed as the top prospect from Bradenton this season, then he went out and hit two doubles, giving him five extra base hits in his first four games.

Polanco has extra base hits in all four games he has played in Winter Ball
Polanco has extra base hits in all four games he has played in Winter Ball

Polanco’s Leones del Escogido team won 12-4 on Monday, as Polanco was the only Pirates player to see action in Winter League ball. He went 2-for-5 with two doubles, a walk and two runs scored. He is batting .375 in 16 AB’s and five of his six hits have been for extra bases. Polanco has scored five runs, drawn two walks and he has three outfield assists.

The Venezuelan and Mexican Leagues were both off on Monday. Two games were scheduled for the Dominican League, but the Licey/Gigantes game was postponed.

Why Aren’t Some Guys Playing Yet?

The Dominican League has a rule put in place by MLB called the “Extreme Fatigue” rule. What it basically does, is limit the amount of playing time certain players get in Winter ball. If a player got in too much playing time during the regular season, either in the minors or majors, they aren’t able to take part in Winter ball until December 1st. It is why some players will show up on rosters at the beginning of the season, but they won’t show up in the league until well after Opening Day. The rule also has provisions for injured players and ones that needed surgery during the season.

The list of temporarily banned players in the Dominican includes four Pittsburgh Pirates players. Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte, Alen Hanson and Stolmy Pimentel are all on that list. Pimentel is the only one currently on a roster, while Hanson is playing in the Arizona Fall League. Alvarez has never played Winter Ball and it sounds like Marte will eventually join the Escogido team, where he could see playing time next to Polanco.

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  1. I also believe how well Polanco does in winter ball might reflect on what the Pirates do over the winter for their right field situation, if Polanco tears up winter league baseball, they might look at him like the starting right fielder in Pittsburgh at the end of ST., they did it with Marte, I realize Marte had a little time the year before, Marte did tear up winter ball last year, but Polanco is ahead of where Marte was when they initially brought Marte up.
    Huntington has mentioned a couple of times that the fixes for the Pirates next year might be internal fixes and Polanco could be one of those internal fixes.

    • I can’t imagine him being the Opening Day starter. At the very minimum, he will spend a couple weeks in AAA to get an extra year of service time out of him. I still think he needs a few months at AAA, but if he tears up the Dominican League all off-season, it will make that decision to keep him down longer a tough one. Avoiding Super-two status is a smart thing for a small market team, unless that player you’re holding back is one that can help you get to the playoffs. The extra postseason money will cover any extra money he will make down the road. The interesting thing is that you might see Polanco and Taillon come up at the same time. If it’s in early July, that would be just like making a major deadline deal

      • Marte had a strong WL season in 2011-12 and a strong 2012 ST. Yet he began the 2012 season at Indianapolis. I expect the Pirates to send Polanco to AAA. I’d be shocked if they didn’t.

        • The 2013 version of Polanco was definitely ahead of 2011 Marte due to the wide gap in their plate patience, but like I said above, you wouldn’t give up an extra year of control just to put him on the Opening Day roster. Even a couple weeks of AAA to start the season avoids that. I’m sure the Pirates would prefer he got in a half season at Indy, rather than just a couple weeks, but the couple weeks is the minimum you can expect. You can probably figure out his preferred timetable based on how they attack the off-season. Polanco doesn’t have a lot to work on, but the high level minor league experience would be nice.

  2. IMO, winter ball helped Marte considerably last year. I believe it is very important for Polanco’s growth and doing well is important, in the league he is in, not producing puts you on the bench.

    • That is true and a good point. It is not a developmental league like the AFL, the best players play and if you slump, they will bench you. These teams play to win daily. In that sense, it is not like the minor leagues, where winning is secondary

    • Right now, it is comparable to strong AA pitching, but as the season progresses it’s AAA level with crowds that are really into the games. For the fans there, this is there regular season and they are rabid fans to say the least. The atmosphere is more like what you saw at WBC home games. It is tough to put an exact level on the competition, because you will have major league players all the way down to a handful of the better DSL/rookie ball players. The starter he faced yesterday pitched well in AA this year. He was followed by a Mexican League All-Star, which is AAA equivalent. The next guy struggled in High-A ball, followed by a Winter League veteran, who topped out at AAA in 2009. On Sunday, the starter was Hector Noesi, who has pitched in the majors the last three years

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