Gregory Polanco: Super 2 And The Pittsburgh Pirates
Heaping criticism on the Pirates for the Gregory Polanco super 2 “debacle” has been popular over the past two months. After an April in which the left-handed hitter batted .400 with an OPS of 1.089, his offensive numbers pointed to a player ready to make an impact on a Pittsburgh team platooning former top-100 prospects turned busts Jose Tabata and Travis Snider in right field.
Just yesterday, the first inquiry as a guest on SiriusXM’s Fantasy Baseball channel was a Gregory Polanco super 2 question. For those who haven’t seen the outfielder play at the minor league level, it’s easy to frame the conversation as good player versus evil team — especially after the speculation of a long term deal rejected by Polanco.
However, the reality of the Gregory Polanco super 2 dilemma wasn’t nearly as cut and dry. His May OPS in Triple-A dipped to .861 while Josh Harrison finished at .844 at the MLB level. For Polanco, super 2 was no longer the road block, a hot hitting 26-year old was. This fact was overlooked to keep the conflict on page one of the sports page. And over the course of the six weeks leading up to Polanco’s promotion, the quality of published pieces discussing the situation were a cross between blatant trolling and speculation from individuals who had never seen him play.
In reality, the Pirates went 15-13 in May, winning five more games than the opening month of the season. Harrison became the lead off hitter and has an .849 OPS in the role, good for a wRC+ of 137 meaning he creates runs at 37% better than the league average. Meanwhile, Polanco projects to be a below average hitter at the MLB level. For a Pittsburgh team attempting to crawl back into contention, does it make sense to promote a top prospect even though he’s expected to be less valuable? Not a chance!
Admittedly, the Gregory Polanco super 2 speculation was juicy and impossible to dismiss because of the universal dislike for super 2 in general. With so few quality Major League Baseball players to begin with, the idea of holding one in the minor leagues to manipulate service time and a player’s salary is the definition of low hanging fruit.
Scouting Gregory Polanco: Super 2 Poster Child
Before heading to scout Polanco against the Gwinnett Braves, the angle of the introduction was a slam dunk. The top-100 prospect was ready. Pittsburgh needs to promote him now. Super 2 be damned! After the three game look [SCOUTING REPORT], it was obvious the Gregory Polanco super 2 talk had been blown out of proportion. The top prospect presented with holes in his offensive game, even though an OPS of .945 says otherwise.
The biggest challenge for Polanco will be to develop an all field approach. A dead pull hitter, he pulverizes fastballs, but struggled with soft stuff away. For example, right-hander Marco Estrada on the division rival Milwaukee Brewers throws his change-up 27.9% of the time. At 77.6 MPH, the pitch would devour Polanco on the outer half. And if Estrada was able to command it well enough to cut it back across the outside corner, the top prospect might as well leave the bat in the dugout. In an International League full of soft tossers and former top prospects, he’d continue to grow and adjust with full time at bats.
Besides, it isn’t as if the Pirates front office wasn’t constantly monitoring and gauging Polanco’s progress. In the three game look, between two and four scouts and front office executives were in attendance. Throughout the game, they chatted it up to the point of being distracting to the scouts from other organization’s. When Polanco stepped to the plate, silence… It’s not as if the organization stopped paying attention to its top prospect until Gregory Polanco Super 2 status passed.
Is Gregory Polanco one, if not the best prospect in baseball at the moment? Absolutely, but the super 2 controversy surrounding him should have ended in May after Harrison cemented himself as starting right fielder and lead off hitter. In fact, Polanco would still be in Triple-A if not for Harrison’s versatility and ability to play the keystone. If Polanco is demoted when Neil Walker returns from the disabled list, it will be because the Pirates’ best lineup is one without Polanco in right field. His taking over in left field for Starling Marte is another piece altogether, but tangential in this instance considering the Gregory Polanco super 2 argument was framed around a terrible right field platoon.
13 Jun 2014 / Mike Newman /
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