Pittsburgh fans will have to wait a few months to see the promising young slugger Gregory Polanco make his regular season debut with the Pirates. The 22-year-old was sent down to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians on Friday, March 14, after what MLB.com describes as a “brief and impressive” spring training.
The Dominican-born outfielder certainly made the most of his limelight, going 6-for-22 with two doubles and a home run in just 10 Grapefruit League games. So, why is it that his time in the MLB is being pushed back already?
“Our job is to put him in position to thrive, not just survive,” Bucs General Manager Neal Huntington told MLB.com‘s Tom Singer. “We’re excited by where we believe he can go and how quickly we can get him there to help us win Major League games as quick as possible.”
The Pirates administration expects that Polanco will make his grand entrance to “The Show” about halfway through the season. Their strategy is similar to what they did with center-fielder Andrew McCutchen and fellow Dominican outfielder Starling Marte. McCutchen played in over 500 Minor League games before his call-up, while Marte played in 431 before his. Both players impressed their coaches during their first spring, but were optioned to the Minors for further development. Marte used his experience to assure Polanco that his time will come.
“He said he went through the same thing and told me, ‘Keep playing. Keep doing what you’re doing, and see what happens,'” Polanco said. “I know I’m young. I’ll have to wait until they call me up.”
So far in his career, Polanco has played in 410 Minor League games, but has only made nine plate appearances as a Triple-A ballplayer. Building on these statistics is only the start of his development process, and Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle is confident that it’s the right move for Polanco’s career.
“Every time he steps into the box, there’s going to be a pitcher thinking, ‘That’s a springboard to the big leagues’… he’s hungry to go. We want him, when he gets back, for it to be for good.”