Stud outfield prospect Gregory Polanco is making his MLB debut tonight and the Pirates have him starting in right field and batting second in the lineup.
Polanco hit .347 with a .405 on-base percentage and .540 slugging percentage in 62 games at Triple-A to earn the call-up and that type of player would obviously fit anywhere in the batting order, but at this point in his development the 22-year-old has more speed than power so the second spot makes sense for now.
Ultimately he projects as a prototypical No. 3 hitter if things go well for Polanco, but of course the Pirates have one of the best No. 3 hitters in baseball already in reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen. It’s a very nice problem to have and Polanco batting directly in front of McCutchen should be fun for Pirates fans to watch however long it lasts.
Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.
Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.
Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.