Nick with a Stick: Jorge Polanco
by, 01-18-2013 at 09:19 PM (1026 Views)
Is it really 2013 already? Yes. And don't try to change the subject. We are talking baseball here, and no one cares that you've squandered all of 2012 worrying about doomsday prophecies. All we have is "right now." So lets live in the present for a moment, and assess the future of the Twins utility infielder role.
Every team's gotta have one. A guy that can play anywhere on the infield, and be placed in the outfield if need be. This is the guy you put behind the plate in a catcher emergency (like if Mauer, Doumit, and Butera all have to use the restroom, together). He is a bench guy, but would be a terrific regular if he is needed.
This club has had some dandy utility guys in years past. The first one that comes to mind is Denny Hocking. There have been many more, but none may have defined the job better than the recent Twin named Nick Punto.
"Nicky" could play outstanding defense anywhere, and come up with a big single late in the game. Then he'd steal second and later score. He was scrappy, and I really miss him. He could play 3B too: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?co...61101&c_id=mlb
Most people I talk about baseball with hated Punto. Even my buddy who is a Giants fan bashed him constantly. In general, they hated his inability to hit. I tried to explain that his defensive ability is a highly valuable trait for a major league team to have. Evermore, they spewed hatred for his name (Punto is a nice name in my opinion).
But let's get back to "right now." Jamey Carroll is the guy most likely to fill the utility role this coming season. After 2013, its anybody's guess. So, the search for a new solution should begin now. Let me introduce my first choice to be a long-term solution for the club's utility role...my #9 prospect, Jorge Polanco.
Check out Jorge in the Appy League: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrgvU-gUVwo
I know. He is still at least three years away. But he played every position save for pitcher, catcher and first-base in 2011, including 10 error-free games in the outfield. His infield defense in 2012 was outstanding at 2B, and adequate at SS.
Unlike Punto, Polanco can hit! The Domincan switch-hitter out-slugged fellow Twins prospects Adam Walker and Travis Harrison (and most of the Appy League) in 2012. Not bad at all for a guy listed at 5'11 165 lbs. If he reproduces numbers like 2012 at the higher minor league levels, then we could be talking about an everyday guy in Minnesota.
In order to pertain to my title, I am going to predict that Polanco breaks in with the big-league club as a utility infielder in 2016. He will be playing behind Eddie Rosario at 2B and Daniel Santana at SS, but will find plenty of AB's by spelling any infielder that needs a breather. Imagine that Twins fans...a utility guy with a mind to do damage offensively!