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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Prospect Highlights: Homers From Gregory Polanco and Mel Rojas Jr.

Gregory Polanco had only one hit last night during a 15 run outburst by Indianapolis, but that hit was a big one. With his team down 6-3 in the fourth inning, he came up with two outs and two men on and delivered this three-run homer that got out of the ballpark in a hurry. It’s a dangerous spot for a pitcher, facing Polanco with runners in scoring position. In 54 at-bats, he has a .481/.533/.778 slash line, with 36 RBIs. For comparison sake, the Pirates RBI leader this season is 27 from Pedro Alvarez. While Polanco leads the International League with 43 RBIs, the second highest total in the league is 34, or two less than Polanco has in just those 54 at-bats with RISP. He isn’t just an RBI machine either, he also leads the IL in runs, hits, triples, total bases, extra-base hits, OBP, slugging percentage, batting average and OPS. Basically, he’s good.

The second highlight from last night is this two-run homer by Mel Rojas Jr. from Altoona’s 11-6 win over Erie. Rojas is having a solid season this year, hitting .302 with an .807 OPS in 45 games. He has been great in the month of May, hitting .337 with a .904 OPS. The switch-hitting center fielder has also excelled from both sides of the plate, though the right side seems to be more of a slap hitter that gets on base, while he has shown some power from the left side. He is hitting .310 as a righty, but has just one extra-base hit(a homer) in 42 at-bats. As a lefty, he has nine doubles, a triple and three homers, leading to a higher OPS from that side.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.


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Very exciting to see Rojas Jr.’s starting to show his ability. He’s definitely shown some perseverance as he’s had some bumps in the road in his development. Seems like a battler. Hopefully this month is just the beginning for him.


We know what we are going to do with Gregory Polanco, but Mel Rojas,Jr is too good to not use him in some trade. He excelled last year at AA and the only reason he is repeating is Polanco, Lambo, Cunningham, the signing of Chris Dickerson, etc. all at AAA. A switchhitter standing 6’3″ 215 who hits for average from both sides and a lot of power from the left side? When we are offering guys like Liriano and others, he will be one of the “asks” from the other team, in addition to any of many SP’s. If he is still in the Pirate system in 2015, I will be very surprised. Who needs SP’s & OF’s – Yankees, Seattle, Philly, etc, but I would prefer he goes to the AL


My question on Rojas. Would we be talking about him more if he wasn’t buried behind more highly touted prospects? I’ve never seen him play, so I’m asking those who have.


” Maybe ” would be my guess. Usually though,it seems as though scouts and the Development people don’t get quite as excited about a minor league player when they are on their second time around A+ or AA. It’s like ” you will have to continue to impress us “.


Emjay : what I liked about Rojas Jr. in 2013 was the fact that he got off to a mediocre, if not slow start,but you could see him improve as the season went on. A lot of young guys seem to hit the wall at AA when they get a real good dose of adversity. By the way, Matt Curry looks to me like he has seen enough of AA already.

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