When Gregory Polanco moved up to Double-A for the first time in his young career, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said the outfielder was simply "ready for the next challenge."
Next month, he'll face another challenge. He'll join baseball's rising stars for the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field on July 14 as a part of All-Star Game festivities. Polanco, along with Dilson Herrera, will represent the Pirates on the World Team.
"I am excited for this opportunity," Herrera said. "A chance to get on the field with players like that will be a thrill. This game is a great way to show tools and abilities, and I hope I play well."
Polanco, who signed with the Pirates from the Dominican Republic in 2009, started this season in Class A-Advanced Bradenton, but found his way to Double-A Altoona just two weeks ago. With Bradenton, he hit .312 with a .836 OPS, driving in 30 runs and scoring 29 in 57 games.
The Pirates' No. 4 prospect was then moved to Altoona earlier this month. In eight games with the Curve, the 21-year-old lefty is hitting .313 with an .871 OPS. He has six RBIs and six runs scored in 32 at-bats.
"The pitcher's command is going to be a little better, consistency of stuff will be a little bit, so to challenge him a little bit more as a hitter," Huntington said on June 16, explaining the decision to promote Polanco. "So like any young hitter, as long as he commands the strike zone, he's going to have a lot of success."
Herrera has hit .279/.338/.442 with Class A West Virginia this season. The 19-year-old from Colombia has 33 RBIs and 43 runs scored in 59 games.
"I look forward to the chance to play in a big league park ... and on TV," Herrera said. "But most of all, I'm excited for the game."
The 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game takes place at 2 p.m. ET on All-Star Sunday at Citi Field in New York and can be seen live on MLB.com, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send/receive tweets to/from the U.S. and World Team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
Also, for the first time, fans will determine the final player on the U.S. and World Team rosters by casting their votes in the All-Star Sunday Futures Finalists ballot. There are five candidates for each team, and voting ends on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Gerrit Cole and Jameson Tallion, the No. 1 and No. 2 Pirates prospects, represented the organization on the United States Team at last year's Futures Game. Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, is now in the big leagues -- he's 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA, eight strikeouts and just one walk in three starts. Tallion is with Altoona.
Outfielder Starling Marte played for the World Team in 2011.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com.