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Gregory Polanco is destroying the International League

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade
Gregory Polanco, greeted by teammates
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Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Gregory Polanco, post-homer. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

For real, he's destroying it.

Like, very soon the league will be nothing more than a smoking crater, because Gregory Polanco is doing bad, bad things.

On Thursday, Polanco went 3-for-4 with a homer and a steal, crossing the plate three times. With 20 games now in the books, Pittsburgh's top prospect is hitting an insane .420/.460/.679. Polanco leads the International League in runs, hits, total bases and batting average. He currently holds a 59-point edge over the dude in second place in the batting race.

Honestly, it's tough to find a flaw in the 22-year-old's game. Polanco is crushing left-handed pitching so far (.406/472/.531), and he's also pounding righties (.429/.451/.776). He isn't particularly strikeout-prone — he whiffed 73 times in 470 at-bats last season — and he's demonstrated a willingness to walk (52 BBs in 2013). Polanco swiped 40 bags at Single-A two years ago, hitting 16 homers and slashing .325/.388/.522. Last season, he stole 38 bases across three minor league levels, adding 30 doubles and a dozen homers. And then he won the MVP in the Dominican Winter League, along with Rookie of the Year honors. And he's also a quality defensive outfielder with an excellent throwing arm.

Again, there are few obvious weaknesses here, and many obvious strengths. Polanco has the look of a guy who could soon go 20/20 (or better) in the big leagues, while hitting for average.

So when will we finally see him? Well, as most of you already know, the Bucs have the usual service time issues to consider. If Polanco is still hidden at Triple-A in June, it almost certainly won't be for developmental reasons.

Here's a recent note from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Karen Price:

Asked if some offensive help from Triple-A may soon arrive, perhaps in the form of Gregory Polanco, [Clint] 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. We've also got some guys here that need to find some consistency and use the opportunity that's there while it's there and see where that takes us. Moves will be made when it's the right time to make.”

The Bucs are a sputtering team these days, hitting just .229/.301/.370 collectively. They've also lost eight of their last 10 games, falling 7.5 games out of first. This bunch could clearly use a boost in several areas.

And still, you shouldn't expect this franchise to ignore the financial implications of an immediate Polanco call-up. Just know that the kid is out there doing all he can to escape Indianapolis. He's emerged as the priority prospect in the Yahoo player pool, available in 86 percent of leagues. Add and stash, wherever you have the bench space.

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