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Pirates Winter Leagues: Gregory Polanco, Zack Thornton among top performers

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Here's an update on key Pirates performances from the Winter Leagues. Let's begin with the usual warning that the Arizona Fall League plays as a hitters' league, and that there's almost never a significant enough sample size in this leagues to know what the performances mean.

-P- In the AFL, Alen Hanson, Alex Dickerson and Gift Ngoepe aren't hitting much at all -- the best performance among the three is that of Dickerson, who's hitting .290/.343/.355. Hanson, of course, only recently turned 21, but he's now had a hard time in both Double-A and the AFL. The sample sizes are small, and he's still obviously a very good prospect, but he might not be on the fast track we might have imagined. He'll almost surely start the season back at Double-A.

Among the pitchers, Phil Irwin has struggled in five starts, but he's put up decent ratios and is trying to get back on track after missing most of the season. If he continues to struggle, I wouldn't read much into it. Zack Thornton has pitched very well, and given his statistical profile, it wouldn't shock me if the Pirates were to roster him or he were to be picked in the Rule 5 Draft. If he were taken, I know what face he'd make.

-P- In the Dominican, Gregory Polanco keeps hitting -- he's now at .328/.442/.609 after going 1-for-3 with a walk yesterday. No one else who's a prospect has played much.