Gregory Polanco has been ripping the ball at a torrid pace at AAA Indianapolis. That, coupled with the Pirates slow start, have fans asking when will the Pirates “Free Polanco”. The natives on the North Shore are getting restless. Polanco has owned AAA pitching thus far. He has a triple slash line of .400/.438/.633 in 96 plate appearances thus far at the AAA level. Some have argued that is simply not a large enough quantity of playing time to justify Polanco being promoted to the majors. As Richard from Saberbucs.net also points out Polanco did not destroy AA pitching last season, posting just a .761 OPS. I’m not sure if what Polanco did at AA should be used to make an argument for or against promoting him to the majors. It is true he did not dominate AA pitching. It it also true the Pirates’ scouts/staff felt he was ready to move to AAA, and he has made that transition effortlessly. The bottom line is that it is not really possible to quantify a number of ABs or a batting average at a certain level that warrants an advancement. There are some that use Travis Snider as a cautionary tale as to why a player should not be rushed. Snider got his first call to the majors with the Blue Jays in 2008 after dominating AAA ball over just 18 games as a 20 year old. Six years later he is still a struggling 4th OF. Meanwhile Andrew McCutchen has blossomed into a star after putting in a sizable volume of 201 games at the AAA level. But many players have transitioned easily to the big leagues after little or no time playing at the AAA level. Gregory Polanco already has more at-bats in AAA ball than Yasiel Puig, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Joe Mauer, Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout, and Manny Machado, just to name a few. When a player is ready they are ready, and the only thing that matters in determining that are if he passes the eye tests of the scouts and staff within the organization. The clues being leaked seemed to indicate that he does. Everyone gushes about Polanco’s abilities. Reporters such Jon Morosi and Peter Gammons have cited rival scouts saying he is big league ready. And this quote indicates to me that the gum chewing skipper of the Bucs is also eager to have him:
Asked if some offensive help from Triple-A may soon arrive, perhaps in the form of Gregory Polanco, Hurdle said he spoke to Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor “at length” Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of different things to look at besides numbers, quality of the competition,” Hurdle said. “I know we have guys that we have some interest in, one in particular.
It is pretty clear the “one in particular” that Hurdle was referring to is Gregory Polanco. I think Polanco is ready. I think the Pirates think he is ready. And I think the only thing holding him back now is the cost savings of avoiding Super 2 status, which is a sad commentary given how little the Pirates spent in the off season.