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)