Last season when the Pittsburgh Pirates needed a spark, Gerrit Cole stepped in and delivered. He went on to win his first four decisions after his June call-up and became the team’s strongest pitcher down the stretch and into the post-season.
This season the club is in desperate need of another spark. After entering the year with the highest expectations in over a decade, the Pirates have stumbled to a fourth place start through the first two months of the season. If they do not turn it around quickly, they could get buried behind the Brewers, Cardinals, and Reds. That spark isn’t far away as Gregory Polanco one of the top prospects in all of baseball is currently excelling in AAA Indianapolis. The speedy outfielder could be just what the club needs to make a run at a second straight post season bid.
Currently, with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, the Pirates are one good outfielder away from having one of the top all-around outfields in the game. When they add Polanco later this month, they a player who has speed to cover ground in even the most spacious of outfields. Although he has the skills to play centerfield, he should see most of his time in right when playing with the Pirates. In right, his strong throwing arm should help to keep runners in check.
At the plate Polanco is even better. Although he is just 22 years old, Polanco is entering his sixth year with the organization. Over the years he has matured to become one of the best hitters in all of the minor leagues. After struggling through three seasons in his teen years, Polanco fully developed in 2012 when he was voted the Most Outstanding Prospect after a dominating AA season.
Recently he has shifted to the leadoff spot, where he would be a perfect fit in the Pirates lineup. Playing well under the AAA league average age, Polanco has batted .355 through 58 games. He has been a multi-hit machine. His speed and patience has allowed him to be a constant factor on the bases. During his five year career he has stolen 141 bases, including a 38 and a 40 stolen base season. By vitalizing this speed the Pirates will have a weapon that is tough to contain in front of sluggers like, McCutchen and Walker. Although he has never hit more than 16 homeruns during any season so far in his career, Polanco uses his speed and gap power to rack-up extra base hits.
Often when July approaches team’s look outside of the organization to make a final push. Last year by promoting Cole the Pirates were able to make a move that was better than any deadline trade. This season, by adding Polanco the Pirates will be able be add a catalyst to the lineup who can take them to another level.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference