When Twins rookie shortstop Danny Santana hobbled off the field in the third inning Wednesday night against the Angels, it set off a chain reaction that resulted in the recall of 20-year-old Jorge Polanco all the way from high Class A Fort Myers.
The move was necessitated by a lack of shortstop depth. Pedro Florimon replaced Santana following his injury, but the 27-year-old Florimon has hit .100 (7-for-70) this season and is a career .206 hitter. Meanwhile, Eduardo Nunez, acquired from the Yankees to play a super-utility role, can’t be activated off the disabled list until Monday and was set to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A New Britain today.
Polanco, who turns 21 on July 5, will be one of the youngest players in the majors. He’s taken 752 at-bats above Rookie ball, and in 287 at-bats this season, he hit .289/.363/.404 at Fort Myers. The Twins added him to the 40-man roster last offseason, so no corresponding roster move was require to call him up.
Polanco, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, came into the season ranked as the Twins’ No. 10 prospect, one slot behind Santana. Despite his youth, he’s a disciplined hitter who boasted a nearly 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. He reminds scouts of a young Tony Fernandez and shows surprising gap power given his 5-foot-11, 185-pounds stature.
Polanco has the plus arm necessary to play shortstop, where he logged a career-high 68 games this season. One evaluator called him an above-average shortstop, while another called him a work in progress at second base with an average arm.
As for Polanco’s bat, one evaluator said the switch-hitter was making good contact and driving the ball from both sides, while another gave him an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale for speed and touted his gap power from both sides.
What To Expect
It’s difficult to envision Polanco as a season-long answer for the Twins, especially given that Santana was at his locker today, his playing status still unclear, according to correspondent Mike Berardino. Polanco will be in Anaheim for today’s game.
Even if Santana were put on the disabled list, the pending return of Nunez means that Polanco’s stay might be extremely short.
Regardless, Polanco’s callup speaks to his makeup, with the Twins believing that such an aggressive promotion—temporary as it may be—won’t hurt his development. In deeper AL-only leagues, Polanco might be worth stashing if you have a minor league reserve roster, because his disciplined approach and switch-hit bat could result in moderate to high batting averages and runs scored potential if he bats first or second for the Twins.