According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Pittsburgh Pirates rookie outfielder Gregory Polanco has been demoted back down to AAA Indianapolis. Polanco is a highly-touted rookie who made quite an impact with the Pirates when he was called up on the 10th of June. Polanco batted over .300 in his first 16 games with the Pirates and was everything Pirates fans and management had hoped he would be and then some. However, El Coffee hasn’t been as hot lately. In fact, the coffee has gone cold so to speak.
For beginners, Polanco has had just one hit in his last thirty plate appearances for the Pirates. Polanco has a slash line of .241/.308/.349. For those who may not know slash line goes as follows: Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage. That’s a major drop off to what Polanco was doing earlier on this summer. But let’s keep a few things in mind about this whole demotion before we get carried away.
The minor league season has just a week left to play. Therefore, Polanco will most likely be back up with the major league team this time next week or shortly thereafter. On September 1st, Major League Baseball rosters expand for the playoffs. This is the time for major league teams to solidify their bullpens by adding an arm or two that has been consistently good and reliable in some bigger, tougher situations. This is also greatly beneficial for teams to add depth to their bench by calling up a few position players. This demotion will only be short-term and it seems as if the Pirates are hoping Polanco will go on a tear and hopefully build some confidence before he goes back to Pittsburgh for September and down the stretch. The least they can hope for is that he sees the ball better than his past thirty at-bats.
My opinion on the whole situation is that this was a move that moderately shocked me. I understand the reasoning behind what Pirates management is doing but I just don’t agree with it. Especially when, on the Pirates bench, certain players sit that are far inferior to Polanco. Jayson Nix for example, is one of those guys. Nix has no value to the Pirates other than being a solid backup defensive replacement for late in a game. Jayson Nix is not a starter, no where close to one in fact, and I don’t see how he is more fit for a spot on the roster than Polanco. Another guy is Michael Martinez. Martinez is another guy that doesn’t fit and just doesn’t have it, or at least has shown little to nothing in the way of potential.
For the Pirates, they better hope they don’t need a bench bat late especially with opponents like St. Louis and Cincinnati coming to town. With the Pirates fighting and clawing to pass the Giants for the second wild card spot, their bench may need to come up big. But with guys like Martinez and Nix, it cannot help them. Once again I will reiterate that I do not agree with the demotion of Polanco but I understand the Pirates side of it. However, with that being said I cannot imagine that Clint Hurdle would want Nix or Martinez as two options off of the bench rather than Gregory Polanco.
For Polanco, he’s had an interesting first year so far. He showed his worth and upside when he’s seeing the ball and his defense has improved in time. The arm on the Pirates outfielder is similar to, not as good or better than, Yasiel Puig. I can say with the utmost confidence that Polanco was the front runner for the National League Rookie of the Year award before going through this cold spell. Now, I’d probably give it to Billy Hamilton of the Reds but that’s neither here nor there. For Polanco and the Pirates’ sake, hopefully this move helps him more than anything because the ceiling has been witnessed with this kid. Yes, I say kid as if he’s not even in high school yet but he is in his early twenties still. It’s just a matter of whether or not he can stay consistent throughout the grind of an entire year.