What is Gregory Polanco working on in Triple-A?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Just to be clear, I think the Pirates' primary reason for keeping Gregory Polanco in Indianapolis is to avoid exposing themselves to the possibility of massively overpaying for six weeks of performance. Neal Huntington won't admit that, because he really can't, but I think it's a perfectly valid reason for waiting until after the Super Two threshold to bring Polanco up. That's a reality of being a smart small-market team, at least until the CBA changes.

That doesn't mean that these next six weeks have to be a waste of Polanco's time, however. If you're curious what he's been working on at Triple-A, a couple recent articles give some insight.

First, from Jeff Passan:

"Would I like to have him here longer to develop a little more? Yeah," [Indianapolis manager Dean] Treanor said. "But then on the other side of that, if they feel they need him there, I'm not going to say, ‘No, he's not ready.' "

Treanor and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle talk at least once a week, sometimes more, and the reports on Polanco remain the same: incredible talent, crazy bat speed from the left side, freakish athletic ability at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds … and still room for improvement. With McCutchen locked into center field, Polanco has needed to learn right field. Daily drills include fielding balls hit over his head and into corners, and learning the nuances of tracking balls hit to right instead of center.

Polanco's baserunning is a point of emphasis, too, as the Pirates want to take advantage of his well-above-average speed. Reading pitchers and stretching his leads – "This guy takes about three strides to get to second," Treanor said – can add to the danger he poses.

Polanco is going to be a very good defender and baserunner, but that doesn't mean he can't use refinement in those areas.

From the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore:

With that as a backdrop, Williams [I think Kilgore means pitcher Ryan Mattheus] encountered Gregory Polanco, one of the best outfield prospects in baseball.

“Unbelievable talent,” Mattheus said. “Just conversations with our pitching coach down there, Paul Menhart, we talked about how to get this guy out. He said, ‘You can get him with your good sinker, but you got to let him know you’ll go in there. From the get-go, you got to get in on him.’

“That’s what the plan was. And I felt like I executed that perfect.”

Mattheus fired an inside sinker, and true to the scouting report, Polanco dived over the plate. When the ball headed inside, Polanco stood straight up, arms in the air. The umpire interpreted the sinker as a purpose pitch, and he tossed Mattheus.

There's not much to add to these, but they suggest that Polanco isn't a finished product, and that he can still learn from Triple-A baseball. I realize that, for many people, that's not the point -- maybe he can learn the same stuff at the big-league level while still being an asset there. But the economic realities of baseball mean Polanco probably isn't coming up right now, and so maybe hearing about what he's working on in Triple-A provides some consolation.

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