After a tremendous rookie campaign, Danny Santana was given the opportunity to run with the starting shortstop job. He struggled to start the year and this might have opened the door to some other prospects. Jorge Polanco might be the biggest beneficiary as he makes a big jump on the Twins Daily prospect rankings.
|Photo: Marilyn Indahl, USA Today|
2015 Stats (MLB): .333/.500/.333 (1-for-3, 1B, BB)
(AA): .301/.347/.414, 12 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR
2014 Preseason Rank: 8, 2015 Preseason Rank: 7
What's To Like
Polanco just keeps getting better and he's been able to make those improvements while consistently moving through the Twins system. This didn't happen overnight as he struggled through two stints in the Gulf Coast League. Polanco emerged as an offensive threat in 2012 with Elizabethton where he hit .318/.388/.514 with 22 extra-base hits. Since that time he has been a vital part of some power packed line-ups in Cedar Rapids, Fort Myers, New Britain, and Chattanooga.
He's been called up to the big leagues multiple times in the last couple years and he became the first player since Kent Hrbek to make the jump from High-A to the MLB level. With current call-ups like Byron Buxton on the roster, the Twins have made it clear that they are only going to bring up young players that have the maturity and pose to handle the situation. Polanco demonstrates these qualities.
What's Left To Work On
Polanco has moved around the diamond on the defensive side of the ball. The Twins signed him as a shortstop but he played a lot of second base in the early part of his career. At the start of the 2014 season, the Twins organization decided to let Polanco play shortstop on a more consistent basis. That season was a little rough as he was charged with 35 errors in 540 chances (.935 fielding percentage). This season has gone marginally better as he committed 14 errors over 236 chances (.941 fielding percentage).
The Lookouts have consistently used Polanco near the top of the order so it would be nice to see him continue to refine his approach to accumulate more walks. He has a .350 OBP for his career but that number is a little over 60 points higher than his batting average. If he wants to be near the top of the order at baseball's highest level, he's going to need to continue to improve in the walk department.
Twins fans have already seen Polanco at the big league level this year. It was a brief trip but it was still another glimpse of what's to come. There have been some good signs from Polanco this year at Double-A as well. With 14 steals already, he's well on his way to surpassing his career high of 17 steals from 2014.
Polanco seems very close to becoming a regular at the big league level. He's a multifaceted prospect with good defensive ability including a rocket arm. As he's moved through the system, he's shown the ability to improve offensively including a little pop in his bat. None of his tools are elite but he has the ability to be a major league starter for years to come.
As the Twins turn over the reigns to the youth movement, Polanco seems destined to be Brian Dozier's double-play partner for at least the next couple seasons. His stock is rising fast and the Twins might be close to cashing in on their investment.