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Robb Jeffries

What can we expect from Jorge Polanco?

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Some rather unexpected news moved across the Internet on Thursday as we heard Jorge Polanco, he of High-A ball experience, would replace Yohan Pino on the 25-man roster in time for Thursday's game in Anaheim.

Manager Ron Gardenhire had been vocal about his desire to add another bench player at the expense of the pitching staff, but not many would have predicted the 20-year-old from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, would be the one to get the call to The Show.

So what should Twins fans expect from a kid who has all of 7 spring training games for the big league squad? It's not a common path to the majors, to be sure. Jose Fernandez had made it look easy for Miami -- until his elbow blew out and he required Tommy John surgery. It's even more rare for a position player to make that kind of leap. Two players from this year's Twins had previously made their major-league debuts before donning a Triple-A jersey:
  • Joe Mauer, debuted in 2004: The former No. 1 draft pick and hometown hero got off to a hot start, hitting .308 with 8 doubles and 6 home runs in only 106 at bats before landing on the DL for the rest of the season. He's gone on to be a force for the Twins (when healthy).
  • Aaron Hicks, 2013: Hicks won a three-way battle for the starting position in center field during spring training, then struggled mightily in his first taste of the bigs. He disappointed in his ability to get on base, as he was expected to bat leadoff for the Twins. He "recovered" to bat .191, but walked only 24 times while recording 84 strike outs. His current role in the organization is as the leading man in the "Which Side Should I Bat From?" soap opera.


Clearly, Gardy and Company would like more of a Mauer-esque rookie campaign from Polanco than Hicks, but somewhere in the middle is more likely. Polanco boasts a .289/.363/.404 line in 72 games in Fort Myers, and can hit for average with limited power from both sides of the plate. Defensively, he has shown improvement but profiles more as a second baseman than a shortstop, although he does not have any shortage of arm strength.

If Polanco can display any semblance of plate discipline while holding his own in the field, his stock should continue to rise, but don't expect him to be a long-term fixture in Minnesota just yet. He'll likely need more time in Triple- or Double-A to continue to develop his defensive reads from both middle infield positions before given a chance to earn a regular role for the Twins.

Comments

  1. jtkoupal's Avatar
    I like Polanco as a prospect. I know that he's not ready for the big leagues. I know that Hrbek skipped AA and AAA and did just fine, but this will not be the case for Polanco. He will be optioned back soon, possibly even when Plouffe is activated, as he needs at-bats and Florimon, who has no future, does not.

    I don't like this move because this is service time. They are wasting his service time, a valuable thing for small-mid market teams. The sooner he runs though his service time, the sooner he will leave. It would not have taken much to add Bernier to the active roster. For all I care, Pino could have been DFA'd. I don't think that this was the right move.
  2. tatmandu's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jtkoupal
    I don't like this move because this is service time. They are wasting his service time, a valuable thing for small-mid market teams. The sooner he runs though his service time, the sooner he will leave.
    That may be true - but I think you have to consider the value of a weekend stint in the big leagues. Sounds like a Plouffe or Nunez activation on Monday will send Polanco back to single-A, so it may be more helpful to his development (and by extension, this organization) if he gets a taste of pace and pitching in the bigs. Hopefully he can start on Saturday and face Darvish.

    Polanco is also on the 40-man as a single-A player. What happens when we have to add Sano and Meyer to protect them from the Rule 5 draft? His development needs a little more oomph so he can be a valuable major league contributor/justify his roster spot.
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