Pittsburgh Pirates Future Friday: Tito Polo

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

This season the site will be posting articles every Friday that will be titled ‘Future Friday.’  These articles will be about a specific Pittsburgh Pirates minor league prospects who is having a successful season.

These articles will feature Pittsburgh Pirates prospects who range anywhere from top prospects to lower level players who are working their way up the prospect ranks. The articles will outline a bio about them, what they have done in their careers, how they are doing this year, and give some insight on what their future could potentially hold.

Tito Polo is playing center field for the Low-A West Virginia Power this season. He is a prospect who many people became familiar with this spring training as he got into a few games.  Polo has been projected as a breakout prospect for the last few seasons.  He has not broke out the way some thought he would, but he has not been a disappointment either.

The now 21-year-old signed out of Colombia in 2012 for an undisclosed amount.  Polo was viewed as a toolsy player with great speed, defense, and some gap power.  When Polo signed the concern about his was whether or not he would be “big enough”.  He was 5’8” and 150 pounds when he signed.  The good news is that he did grow in to a more projectable player.  He now is 5’11” and 180 pounds, about prototypical for an outfield prospect.  If he continues to physically fill out his gap power will turn into home run power. He has a quick, short swing.  He is prone to striking out.  In fact that was a big issues for him last season..

So far in his career he has played in the DSL and the GCL for his first three seasons. He was very good at both levels.  At the DSL he hit .278 and at the GCL he hit .291.  He spent all of 2013 and 2014 at those two levels.  Last year he skipped over both Short-Season teams and played for the Power.  He played in 102 games and batted a career worst .236 with a low OPS of .641.

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Knowing that they aggressively push him up, the organization decided to put him back in Low-A to start 2016.  This move makes sense as he did not impress at this level last year and needs to show that he made adjustments to be a better hitter this year.  I do not think he will spend a lot of time there if he gets off to a good start.

So far this year he is showing improvements at the Low-A level.  On the year he is batting .278 with an OBP of .350 and a Slugging percentage of .451 (.801 OPS).  He also has 5 home runs and 19 runs batted in thus far in 36 games.  One note is that he has stolen 12 bases, but he has also been thrown out eight times.  Polo struggles with timing and getting good jumps.  As he continues to work this year he should improve in this area.  The other big concern is that in 36 games he has struck out 36 times.  With that he has only walked eight times.  This ratio is 4.5 strikeouts for every one walk, way above league average.

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The big thing the Pittsburgh Pirates see in Polo is has the potential to be a five tool player.  He has good speed, an average arm, the ability to track on defense, plus has some pop off the bat.  If he continues to develop and learn to be a more disciplined hitter then we could start to see why scouts projected him as a breakout prospect candidate.