Pipeline preview: Pirates' Polanco roars into May
One of the Minor Leagues' hottest hitters in the first month of the season was outfielder Gregory Polanco. The Pirates' No. 1 prospect hit .400 with a 1.089 OPS in 24 games at Triple-A Indianapolis during April, leading many fans and observers to wonder how much longer it would be before the club promoted him to the big leagues.
But Polanco, who is ranked No. 12 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, remains in the International League as the calendar flips to May. And on Thursday he will try to carry his torrid start into a new month as Indianapolis travels to Pawtucket for the start of a four-game series. The game begins at 7:05 p.m. ET and can be seen on MiLB.TV.
Polanco and the Indians will face right-hander Matt Barnes, Boston's No. 6 prospect and No. 80 overall, who will be making his second start of the season. His debut was delayed by three weeks due to tenderness in his right shoulder that he experienced during Spring Training. He won his first start, allowing two runs (one earned) in five innings last Friday against Rochester.
While Polanco has been on a season-long tear, first baseman Dominic Smith, the Mets' No. 3 prospect and No. 100 overall, started his first full professional season on the opposite end of the spectrum.
The Mets sent Smith, their first-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, to Class A Savannah, a notoriously difficult park for left-handed hitters. At first, he struggled in the South Atlantic League, hitting .164 in his first 19 games. But he has seemingly turned it around in the past week. After going 2-for-3 Wednesday night, Smith has three multi-hit games in his last five, matching his total from the first 19 games. He will look to continue his hot streak Thursday as Savannah concludes its series against Delmarva.
In addition to Barnes, several other pitchers ranked in the Top 100 are scheduled to start Thursday, including Robert Stephenson (17), Andrew Heaney (27), Kohl Stewart (37), Eddie Butler (38), A.J. Cole (65) and Jose Berrios (84). Fans can watch Stephenson, Heaney, Butler and Cole on MiLB.TV.
Top prospect probables
Jason Adam (Royals' No. 9), Northwest Arkansas at Springfield
Miguel Almonte (Royals' No. 6), Wilmington at Carolina
Matt Barnes (Red Sox No. 6), Pawtucket vs. Indianapolis
Chris Beck (White Sox No. 8), Birmingham vs. Mobile
Jose Berrios (Twins' No. 5), Fort Myers at Palm Beach
Clayton Blackburn (Giants' No. 8), Richmond vs. Bowie
Eddie Butler (Rockies' No. 2), Tulsa vs. Arkansas
A.J. Cole (Nationals' No. 2), Harrisburg vs. New Britain
Tim Cooney (Cardinals' No. 10), Memphis vs. Colorado Springs
Jacob deGrom (Mets' No. 13), Las Vegas vs. Reno
Michael Fulmer (Mets' No. 16), St. Lucie at Bradenton
Drew Gagnon (Brewers' No. 17), Huntsville at Montgomery
Andrew Heaney (Marlins' No. 1), Jacksonville at Mississippi
Luke Jackson (Rangers' No. 8), Frisco at San Antonio
Dace Kime (Indians' No. 15), Lake County vs. West Michigan
Matt Magill (Dodgers' No. 12), Albuquerque vs. Salt Lake
Trevor May (Twins' No. 12), Rochester vs. Louisville
Adalberto Mejia (Giants' No. 3), Richmond vs. Bowie
Matt Purke (Nationals' No. 6), Harrisburg vs. New Britain
Joely Rodriguez (Pirates' No. 20), Altoona at Erie
Enny Romero (Rays' No. 4), Durham vs. Columbus
Keyvius Sampson (Padres' No. 14), El Paso vs. Fresno
Robert Stephenson (Reds' No. 1), Pensacola at Jackson
Kohl Stewart (Twins' No. 4), Cedar Rapids vs. Kane County
Andrew Thurman (Astros' No. 16), Quad Cities vs. Clinton
Alberto Tirado (Blue Jays' No. 7), Lansing at Dayton
Nick Tropeano (Astros' No. 17), Oklahoma City at Round Rock
Austin Voth (Nationals' No. 16), Hagerstown vs. Hickory
Mike Wright (Orioles' No. 7), Norfolk vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre