The Pittsburgh Pirates have experienced a re-vitalization of the organization thanks in large part to the development of homegrown talent. Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, Pedro Alvarez, and Starling Marte lead an exciting core of players that have developed within the organization and graduated to the major league ball club. The future is even brighter as a second wave of homegrown talent is poised to bring play-making ability to Pittsburgh. This new class is led offensively by outfield prospect Gregory Polanco, an international free agent signing out of the Dominican Republic back in 2009. Polanco has reached the big leagues, but should find himself playing in PNC Park sometime during 2014.
Gregory Polanco reached AAA at the end of last season, but spent the majority of his time split between Hi-A and AA. The combined line across all three levels was an exciting .285/.356/.434 with 12 HRs and 38 SBs. Polanco has the complete package: defensive abilities to stick in CF, speed to make an impact on the base paths, contact skills to support a high AVG, and developing power that could max out around 25 HRs in his prime. The power and hit tools are still raw and will develop in time, but the speed is plus, possibly plus-plus and should translate into 20+ steals a season as soon as he reaches the MLB. The triple slash could end up looking similar to the .280/.350/.430 he put up last season in the minors and if he finds himself hitting McCutchen and Alvarez the potential for league-leading R production is very real.
The path to playing time isn't obvious for Polanco as the Pirates starting OF appears set with Marte, McCutchen, and Tabata going from left to right. Tabata is the weak link and could offer the first opportunity for Polanco, but until that time he should get some seasoning in AAA. Dynasty owners should value Polanco as a Top-25 fantasy prospect who lacks the elite superstar ceiling of other guys, which keep him out of the Top 10. Many scouts are projecting that by the time the power comes around, the speed could be leaving Polanco's game. It's a reasonable outcome, but difficult to project. Polanco is a safe bet to make a significant fantasy impact; it's just a matter of whether it's geared more towards speed or power.