Getting inside the head of Neal Huntington:
“Gregory, could you slump for us? Please?”
The Bucs’ GM may not want Gregory Polanco to hit a lull — as opposed to the smashes he’s been hitting all over the International League — because it would ease the increasing pressure on the club to finally get him up. But — and this is strictly speculation on my part — it would give him a chance to take the only test he hasn’t yet passed.
Namely, how does he handle and react to adversity? Always one of the major questions about can’t-miss prospects who go through the ranks dominating their peers. In the Majors, everyone is fed humility at some point; how will The Guy spit it out?
Polanco certainly hasn’t been humbled in Indianapolis. We’ve been giving you our Polanco Daily on Twitter (@Tom_Singer). Here’s the Polanco Monthly, his first at the Triple-A level:
- .400 batting average
- 38 hits (12 for extra bases) vs. 16 strikeouts
- .457 on-base percentage
- .632 slugging average
- 25 RBIs — in 24 games
- Hitting even better against lefties [.405] than right-handers [.397].
All that, while the big boys are struggling to score runs — fewer than three in 14 of their 26 games.
No wonder the outcry grows for the call to go out to Polanco.
While obviously not confessing any Polanco slump-wish, Huntington regularly refers to “making the adjustment to the adjustments pitchers will make to him.”
Indians manager Dean Treanor patiently points out that there are things outside the batter’s box Polanco has to work on: Taking the proper routes to balls in right field, a relatively new position for him [sorry, center is taken in Pittsburgh] and using his speed properly on the bases [he has been thrown out on half of his eight steal attempts].
Looking at the numbers, no one wants to hear about that. Fundamentals, schmundamentals.
“We’re in a statistics-driven business, and there is no question a .400 average over 90-some at-bats is very impressive,” Huntington says. “But sometimes you can’t rush these things.”
Still, a scout from another organization makes a very interesting observation in today’s Tribune-Review:
“Polanco is embarrassing the Pirates by them not bringing him to the big leagues ASAP. He would be an immediate impact bat in the middle of their lineup.”
My own response to the Free Polanco movement has gone something like this: This isn’t basketball, where one man can reverse a team’s direction.
And whenever I make that point, I get hit with Yasiel Puig, whose arrival last year kick-started the Dodgers awake. So there.
Oh, by the way. The Dodgers did not page Puig until early June.