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.
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.
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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