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Big League Stew

The Gregory Polanco show is here, and you need to be watching

Does this sound familiar? A 22-year-old prospect, a right fielder with plenty of tools that fans have been salivating over, gets his big-league call-up in June and immediately starts crushing the ball.

You're probably thinking Yasiel Puig, circa 2013. You're right, but it's also Gregory Polanco in 2014.

The Pittsburgh Pirates rookie played his 16th MLB game Thursday, and it was another great one. He hit a beautiful three-run homer and drove in four runs total, helping the Pirates to a 5-2 win over the New York Mets. It would have been Polanco's best game as a big leaguer, if not that for that five-hit game right after he joined the Pirates.

Polanco isn't quite Puig-esque — the Dodgers outfielder put together a June in 2013 that was too historic to be matched this quick. Polanco is, however, hanging out in the same neighborhood, just down the street the bit.

Through 16 games:
Polanco: .338/.416/.441, 23 hits, 14 runs, two homers, 10 RBIs, four stolen bases.
Puig: .452/.477/.790, 28 hits, 12 runs, six homers, 12 RBIs, two stolen bases

Again, Puig's start was obviously better, but Polanco has given us another dynamic outfielder in MLB's impressive young talent pool, another must-watch player to tune your TV to when your favorite team's not on.

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There are a handful of excellent "rookies" in MLB this year, Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu topping the list, both of them also having must-watch season. But Polanco is a little different. Those two played pro baseball in Japan and Cuba, respectively, before coming to the U.S. as international free agents. They were plopped directly into their team's starting lineup/rotation. Polanco has moved up the Pirates farm system since 2009.

Said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle after Polanco's big game Thursday:

''He's a talented young man, so I'm humble to have him on the club and the opportunity to write his name in the lineup. It's a good time for him to be included on our club and he's obviously been making a difference since he's been up here.''

Indeed he has. The Pirates are 10-6 since Polanco joined the team, four games under .500 then and one game over now. And that's something he's got over Puig. The Dodgers were 7-9 in Puig's first 16 games.

Of course, the Puig-fueled Dodgers eventually turned it on, jumped out of last place and worked their way to an NL West title. If Polanco can have that affect, the currently-in-fourth-place Pirates would be ecstatic.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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