UPDATE, 7:21 p.m. ET: A “high-ranking” Pirates official told beat writer Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that there are currently no plans to call up Polanco on Friday. This just took an odd turn.
As first reported on Wednesday afternoon by Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com and then later confirmed by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Pirates will call up top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco before their series-opener Friday night at home against the NL Central-leading Brewers.
Polanco, rated a Top 10 prospect this winter by Baseball America, has hit .351/.410/.547 with six home runs, 47 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in 57 games this season at Triple-A Indianapolis. He should provide an immediate boost to a Pirates offense that currently ranks 22nd in the majors in runs scored.
Pittsburgh opens play Wednesday evening with a 28-30 record and -22 run differential.
The only reason Polanco isn’t already in the bigs was threat that he might achieve Super Two status. His callup Friday means that he will finish the 2014 season with 115 days of service time. The projected cutoff for Super Two status — according to Williams’ report at PiratesProspects.com — is two years and 128 days.
MORE FROM HBT: Top prospect Gregory Polanco rejects seven-year contract from Pirates
Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:
CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta
Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.
RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole
Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.