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Article: Polanco Providing Poise

jorge polanco nick gordon engelb vielma
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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 08:30 PM

Shortstop is becoming a position of strength across baseball. Names like Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager are becoming household names. These budding infielders are leading the next generation of baseball stars. It is truly seems like the sky could be the limit for each of them.

The sky has not been the limit for the Twins when it comes to the shortstop position. In fact, the position has become a revolving door in recent years. While other organizations are building their franchise around a star shortstop, Minnesota has struggled to fill the void.

Even in midst of a young season, Jorge Polanco is providing poise at one of baseball's hardest positions.Doubling Down On Defense
Polanco's biggest question marks as a prospect were on the defensive side of the ball. The Twins blundered a little with his development last season as he didn't play a single inning at shortstop in the minors. Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked about how the organization handled Polanco during spring. "I wish I had a better explanation for you. But I think myself, a lot of other people, realized we didn't handle it the right way."

Even with this organizational blunder, Polanco seems to have overcome some of these defensive faults. According to FanGraphs, he currently leads the American League in defensive runs saved (3). The only player with a better DRS mark this season is the Cubs' Addison Russell. Polanco also ranks in the top-10 across baseball in RZR, UZR, and defensive WAR.

Looking For Lumber
Being a two-way player is what separates many of the young shortstops mentioned above. Polanco was never expected to be an elite hitter but he showed positive signs as a prospect. So far this season, he ranks third in the American League in shortstop WAR. He has the third fewest strikeouts and the fourth highest OBP. This puts him ahead of players like Carlos Correa, Troy Tulowitzki, and Elvis Andrus.

Much of Polanco's offensive success has come against left-handed pitching. He has hit .364/.391/.591 (.982 OPS) against southpaws with three extra-base hits in 22 at-bats. His OBP is almost 100 points lower against righties and this has come in 21 more plate appearances. He does have an impressive 6 to 5 strikeout to walk ratio versus right-handed hurlers.

Waiting In The Wings
The Twins have other young shortstop prospects waiting in the wings. Former first round pick Nick Gordon is off to a hot start at Double-A. Through 14 games, he is hitting .339/.397/.464 with four extra-base hits in 56 at-bats. After playing every game in 2016 at shortstop, Gordon has started four games at second base this season.

Gordon's time at shortstop is being challenged by Engelb Vielma. When it comes to shortstop, Vielma is widely considered the better defender. Vielma has started six games at shortstop and seven at second base. There have been questions about Vielma's offensive in the past but he is hitting .340/.365/.400 to start the year.

While shortstop might have been a weakness in recent years, the Twins look poised to stop their revolving door. Polanco is emerging as a very viable shortstop candidate. If he can't keep up his hot start, Gordon and Vielma are waiting for their own opportunity.

Who will be the Twins shortstop by 2018? What about 2020? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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Cody Christie
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#2 SD Buhr

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 09:35 PM

As long as we're looking into the future, note that the organization has a SS at low-A that's sporting a .397/.438/.574 split through 16 games played.

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#3 HitInAPinch

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:38 AM

Polanco has been much better and consistent playing time is the key at any position, any career.  He still seems a little clunky at times.  I like him better at 2nd.  

 

BTW:  anyone else hate Baseball Reference's new format?  Can't figure out how to get Polanco's splits....

 

EDIT:  Figured it out.  Go to a different site....  ;)

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#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:41 AM

Shortstop is a pretty solid position for the Twins.

 

Polanco has definitely shown that he can do it, and he looks much more confident than last year, or even four or five weeks ago. 

 

Gordon's off to a fast start. Vielma is also playing really well. Palacios is absolutely on fire. And Wander Javier is sitting in Extended Spring Training. 

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#5 killertwinfan

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 05:53 AM

I was convinced that Polanco couldn't play short given last years effort and the off season activity by the Twins. Although he has his shortcomings, he looks very good.  If this was in the cards, I don't know why you would even consider trading Dozier.  Getting what we wanted was a pipe dream and very disruptive to the player being traded.  I really like the grit of Polanco.  

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#6 mikelink45

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:10 AM

Molitor's quote is the key to the criticism Polanco received and the most important thing the new FO can do is get the minor leagues in tune with the Twins major league club.  We have had awful adjustment issues. 

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#7 ToddlerHarmon

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:20 AM

Ride this as long as you can. I would even like to see Polanco near the top of the lineup more often, as he can steal bases. Having multiple shortstops in the minors gives flexibility as Sano, Dozier, and Mauer all have moving positions or moving on in their near futures
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#8 hybridbear

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:53 AM

What specifically has led to his defensive improvement? Better throws? More range? Less mistakes?


#9 mazeville

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:58 AM

Gordon at short, Polanco at 2nd, Vielma as utility infielder. Dozier gets traded at the deadline this year for pitching. 

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#10 Trov

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 08:04 AM

SS is the hardest position to fill, as long as you care about defense.  The best part of having many guys that could fill it is they could change to almost any position.  As long as they can hit normally a position can be found for them.  Even more important, since they are also in high demand they fetch big returns in trade.  

 

As far as prediction goes, next year will be Polonco, barring any injury, trade, or great fall off of defense.  In two to three years it will be a lot more interesting.  The FO will have to decide who they think they will be best long term.  I bet eventually Sano gets moved off 3b, one of them get moved there, and Dozier gets moved to a new team with one replacing him.  I think the FO understands the importance of defense and wants to have one of the best defenses out there.  


#11 SadMinnySportsFan

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 09:45 AM

Its refreshing we finally have some depth at SS its been a black hole for so long. On one hand, I like the stability of Polanco playing there more than 1 season, and I really like his game. On the other hand, Gordon is on fire, and might push the issue. If twins start to fade (which they most likely will), I think best case scenario is trading Dozier for some pitching and pairing Polonco and Gordon. Vielma strikes me more as a utility infielder if he cant hit.


#12 spycake

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 09:57 AM

 

BTW:  anyone else hate Baseball Reference's new format?  Can't figure out how to get Polanco's splits....

 

EDIT:  Figured it out.  Go to a different site....  ;)

It's actually a really nice redesign at Baseball Reference, if you give it a chance!

 

You should see the Splits links in roughly their old location, under the Summary section near the top.  On desktop, you will see the "Splits" drop down link right there, and on mobile, you have to tap "More Polanco Pages" to show it (and the game logs, minors, HR log, etc.).

 

On desktop, you should see a banner under the summar

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#13 Don't Feed the Greed Guy

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 10:26 AM

 

Gordon at short, Polanco at 2nd, Vielma as utility infielder. Dozier gets traded at the deadline this year for pitching. 

I agree. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as we approach the All-Star break and beyond. Dozier is signed through 2018.

 

I hope Dozier mashes, and the Polanco-Dozier middle infield helps keep the Twins competitive past the trade deadline. Vielma and Gordon continue to swap time at 2b and SS, move up to AAA and are September call-ups.

 

Dozier is traded in the offseason for a #2 starter and a quality prospect. Polanco, Vielma, and Gordon shore up the middle for years to come? What if Vielma and Gordon become the Twins version of Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell until, oh, about 2035? http://bleacherrepor...he-hall-of-fame


#14 Shaitan

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 10:31 AM

I'm glad there's depth, but let's not forget how many MLB position players started at SS. On the current team, at least Dozier, Sano, Polanco, Santana, probably Escobar. In the past: Cuddyer, Plouffe, Joe Nathan...SS is a position "athletic types" get in A/AA and a lot changes with time.

 

Depth is great, but don't mistake it for ready MLB talent. I'm never a fan of trading a MLB player under the premise that there's somebody "in the pipeline" unless it's an immediate upgrade. (I'm not opposed to trading MLB talent for other reasons.)

 

 

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#15 KidBro

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 11:36 AM

April 4th, 2013-  The Cedar Rapids Kernels launch their first season as a Minnesota Twins Affiliate.  I was ecstatic to learn the news, as outside of top prospects (Mike Trout) rolling thru, there wasn't a real connection to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (the previous affiliate) for myself, or many others around town.  Even more exciting the Kernels rostered one of the top prospects in the game at the time Byron Buxton.  There was a nice crowd at Perfect Game Field that night, given it was in competition w/ cool overcast weather and Iowa vs Baylor in the NIT finals, but many in the crowd braved the weather and showed up to see Buxton, including myself.  The future of the Minnesota Twins was right in our backyard.  

I remember Buxton having a hit or 2 and a SB, but the player that I came away incredibly impressed with was a 2B by the name of Jorge Polanco.  His 1st AB he pulled a pitch down the line for a HR.  Next AB he hit a breaking ball to left for opposite field single.  3rd AB he drilled a single right up the middle barely missing the pitcher and luckily saving the pitcher from a broken bone.  The typical cliche but the ball sounded different off his bat (it did for Buxton also). 3 plate appearances and 3 Base hits sprayed to all fields.  Ever since he has been one of my favorite prospects in the Twins organization.  It's great to see him producing for the Twins.  

 

*** Also, after that game I ended up doing a search for Polanco (among many others on that Kernels team) to see where he/they listed on the prospect ranks, and that is what brought me to TwinsDaily.com.  

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#16 Thrylos

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 11:54 AM

 

 

Polanco's biggest question marks as a prospect were on the defensive side of the ball. The Twins blundered a little with his development last season as he didn't play a single inning at shortstop in the minors.

 

Is an understatement and it is not only "last season".The Twins really messed up with Polanco since they called him up from the Miracle for a whole month in 2014 with Gardy allowing him only 8 PAs and 12 total innings on the field.Ditto in 2015:50 days in the majors, 12 PAs and 28 total innings on the field.Compared to last season, 2014 and 2015 were criminal, but, regardless, Polanco persevered.

 

At least, the very few of us who have been following Polanco since he signed, and knew that he can play SS in the majors, despite his detractors from inside the organization who started spreading that BS about his defense, feel validated that it has finally happened...

 

The Twins are in a position of strength as far as SS and middle infield goes. Polanco can be it at least until Palacios or Javier are ready to take over.Vielma can fill in the gaps,add Arraez as the second baseman of the future, and it becomes obvious that the front office can and should use Gordon as a trading chip in rebuilding the team's pitching.

Edited by Thrylos, 25 April 2017 - 11:55 AM.

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#17 frightwig

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 12:34 PM

The Twins don't like to say so explicitly, but I think Polanco had been playing 2B in the minors mostly because the club had been planning to trade Dozier all along.

 

He's actually looked pretty good at SS so far this season, anyway, but if Dozier is gone in the near future, I could still see the club moving Polanco to 2B while Escobar holds down SS until Gordon is ready for his chance.

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#18 HitInAPinch

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:29 PM

 

It's actually a really nice redesign at Baseball Reference, if you give it a chance!

 

You should see the Splits links in roughly their old location, under the Summary section near the top.  On desktop, you will see the "Splits" drop down link right there, and on mobile, you have to tap "More Polanco Pages" to show it (and the game logs, minors, HR log, etc.).

 

On desktop, you should see a banner under the summar

Oh, crap.  There it is!  That's what i get for posting before 3am  LOL

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#19 IndyTwinsFan

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:44 PM

 

The Twins don't like to say so explicitly, but I think Polanco had been playing 2B in the minors mostly because the club had been planning to trade Dozier all along.

 

He's actually looked pretty good at SS so far this season, anyway, but if Dozier is gone in the near future, I could still see the club moving Polanco to 2B while Escobar holds down SS until Gordon is ready for his chance.

I could, too. However, I think the better way to deal with this situation would be to leave Polanco at short and let Escobar play second. That way, instead of 2 players at positions they haven't played recently, you'd only have one (Escobar). Who to have as the utility guy can be debated.

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#20 bighat

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 02:15 PM

Very happy with Polanco out there.  Would love to see him playing every game.  Not sure where that leaves Escobar (who I also like) but I feel like Polanco's already and every day SS and could have an All-Star season in a year or 2. 




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