Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that two prospects had been traded to the New York Yankees to complete the Ivan Nova deal: outfielder Tito Polo and left-handed pitcher Stephen Tarpley. Let's take a look at the newest members of the Yankees organization.
Tito Polo, OF: The Pirates signed Polo out of Colombia in the spring of 2012. He emerged as an interesting talent by hitting .291/.374/.475 in the Gulf Coast Rookie League in 2014, but slumped to just .236/.313/.328 in the Low-A South Atlantic League in 2015, though he did steal 46 bases. He returned to West Virginia to open 2016 and hit a strong .302/.368/.551 in 225 at-bats, leading to his promotion to the High-A Florida State League, where he slashed .276/.351/.346 in 214 at-bats for Bradenton.
Polo is 5-9, 185, a right-handed hitter and thrower born August 23rd, 1994. His best physical tool is speed and he's aggressive about using it on the bases, but unfortunately his weak arm and mediocre defensive instincts will likely limit him to left field at the highest levels. He's well-built physically and has some pop in his bat, but his strike zone judgment is erratic and his power evaporates every time he's promoted. He then makes adjustments and gets the pop back, but whether that will remain true when he reaches Double-A and Triple-A (let alone the majors) remains to be seen.
He's an interesting speculative investment and would be a Grade C+ prospect at this point.
Stephen Tarpley, LHP: Tarpley was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round in 2013 from Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. He was traded to the Pirates in January of 2015 for Travis Snider. He had a very impressive 2015 season in Low-A (2.48 ERA, 105/25 K/BB in 116 innings) but wasn't quite as sharp this year in High-A (4.32 ERA, 90/37 K/BB in 100 innings).
Tarpley is a 6-1, 180 pound southpaw born February 17, 1993. He has no shortage of arm strength with a fastball that can hit 94-95 MPH but his secondary pitches (slider, curve, change) are inconsistent, ranging from very solidly impressive to below average depending on when you see him. He's athletic and throws strikes, although his command within the strike zone isn't always perfect. If his secondaries become more consistent he could be a number four starter but some observers feel he will slot best in the bullpen.
He rated as a Grade B- pre-season and would be on the B-/C+ edge at present.