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Minor League Prospect Note: Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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Minor League Prospect Note: Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates breakout prospect Gregory Polanco was placed on the disabled list at Low-A West Virginia a couple of days ago, out with an ankle injury originally suffered on August 9th.

The injury isn't supposed to be serious and he may be back in action before the end of the month. Even if he misses the last couple of weeks, Polanco has had a tremendous season: .328/.393/.520 with 25 doubles, 15 homers, 43 walks, and 40 steals in 415 at-bats in the South Atlantic League, with just 62 strikeouts.

Although often listed at 6-4, 175, he is up over 210 now according to sources who have seen him at West Virginia, definitely filling out his body. Polanco is a left-handed hitter and thrower born September 14, 1991 in the Dominican Republic. He wasn't on the radar pre-season: he'd hit just .218/.289/.322 in 101 games of rookie ball combined in '10 and '11. He was toolsy, but so are a lot of other guys, and there wasn't anything in scouting reports that hinted of a breakout.

However, if you look at his rookie ball statistics really closely, you can see something.

In '10 he hit .202/.245/.287 with nine walks and 41 strikeouts in 188 at-bats in the GCL. Returning to the GCL in '11, he hit .229/.322/.346, but with 24 walks and 35 strikeouts in 179 at-bats. Note the big improvement in his walk rate. Looking back, there was statistical evidence that he gained some command of the strike zone in 2011.

With additional strength and physical maturity in 2012 (and a reportedly shorter swing), he's broken through in a big way. He is also a talented defensive center fielder with a strong and accurate arm. Polanco is at least a Grade B+ at this point.