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.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.