Back before the 2015 season started, we picked Tito Polo as a possible breakout prospect. If only we waited a season on that prediction, it would look a lot better. He is having that breakout season this year, currently leading the farm system in both homers and stolen bases, showing off the five tools that made him a player to watch while he was still in the Dominican Summer League. Polo hit .315/.388/.533 in the month of May to earn the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month.

Polo really stepped it up this month, though it wasn’t as if he had a bad month of April. He put up an .802 OPS in the first month this year. With West Virginia last season, he had just one month where he put up an OPS over .700 and that was in July when he spent part of the month playing for Colombia in the Pan-Am Tournament in Toronto. He got an aggressive promotion prior to last season, going from the Gulf Coast League to full-season ball in one year, jumping over two levels. While his defense was fine and he led the entire farm system with 46 stolen bases, he also had a .641 OPS, showing that they may have been a little too aggressive.

Polo has some of the best speed in the entire system. That not only helps him pile up stolen bases, it also helps him create runs by forcing errors and taking extra bases on hits. The speed also comes into play in center field, where he can cover a lot of ground, and make up for bad jumps or misreads off the bat. His arm isn’t a true plus tool, but it plays just fine in center field.

He has a quick bat, and despite his small stature at 5’9″, 185 pounds, he has the power to drive the ball. Polo is possibly the best conditioned player in the system and plays baseball year round, going to Colombia for winter ball once the Instructional League is over.

All that adds up to a dedicated athlete in tremendous condition, who has plus speed and some power, plus a strong desire to get better. He will need to work on his plate patience to reach his full potential, as he has a tendency to chase breaking balls out of the zone. That has led to a low walk total, which doesn’t play well at the top of the order. He has been hit by pitches 22 times since the beginning of 2015, so that has helped inflate the OBP, but as you go higher in the system, better pitchers will be able to expose that weakness if it doesn’t improve. He is still far away from the majors, but it looks like he is finally putting together all those tools to become a well-rounded prospect.

PLAYERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL

Indianapolis – Josh Bell, 1B (.293/.383/.424, 115 PA, 2 HR)

Altoona – Harold Ramirez, RF (.366/.439/.455, 115 PA, 1 HR)

Bradenton – Michael Suchy, RF (.313/.471/.418, 89 PA, 1 HR)

West Virginia – Tito Polo, OF (.315/.388/.533, 103 PA, 4 HR)

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Munoz hits a HR and drives in 7 today, but is an afterthought to the day Polo had today…WV broke out the bats today, after struggling to score runs for a month. Now, if Bradenton take the cue…

  2. I don’t know what it is but I love compact players with some pop. I’m excited about Tito. Will be real interesting to see where his game is a year from now.

  3. I’m guessing his OPS in the 930-940 range after today. Does he have a shot at a midseason promotion to Bradenton?

    • The issue seems to be playing time, though he may force their hand. There is nowhere for anyone in the Altoona outfield to go, none of them are ready for AAA. So that means no one in Bradenton can move up either. They have been giving some playing time to Jeff Roy and even Trace Tam Sing filling in, but if Polo comes up, he’s playing everyday. That means someone from Michael Suchy, Jordan Luplow and Elvis Escobar isn’t playing, and they all have potential.

      • Suchy and Luplow are at the age where they have to do well or get passed up by guys who are at least a year younger, and that is not good. Escobar and Polo are very strong prospects.

        Well deserved honor for Polo.

      • At this point I would move Luplow back to third, send Joe to the bench and promote Polo to play center, moving Escobar to a corner outfield slot.

  4. Looks like Tito is in the early lead for the June award as well – in today’s game, he has 2 doubles, 2 HRs, and 4 RBIs – and its still in the 7th inning!!
    On the flip side, Tarpley gets shelled again today – its getting to be a concern with him – I thought he would be back in form by now….

    • Marte mini-me is more appropriate. In his defense, there’s some truth to the saying, “you don’t walk off the island.” Now that he’s on the mainland, he will need to learn plate discipline, or he will be just another prospect who breaks our hearts.

      • So far, his breakout looks almost identical to Marte’s at the same level. Polo’s striking out less and hitting for a bit more power, but the walk rates and OBPs are nearly perfectly identical.

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