Under the Radar Yankees Prospects: Outfielder Tito Polo

Yanks Go Yard is combing through the New York Yankees minor league system in search of hidden gems in this ongoing series. Today, we look at outfielder Tito Polo.

While the New York Yankees trade of Ivan Nova was perhaps the team’s quietest move in the lead up to the August 1st deadline, general manager Brian Cashman did manage to land two legitimate prospects from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a half-season of a pitcher who had a 4.90 ERA and 5.10 FIP in 97.1 IP in the first four months of 2016.

23-year-old lefty Stephen Tarpley is the more renowned of the two players the Yankees got in return for Nova. He was ranked the Pirates’ 17th best prospect by MLB Pipeline prior to the trade. He has a mid-90’s heater with good sink and three quality secondary pitches, and put together a 4.32 ERA while striking out 20.9% of batters in 100 innings for High-A Bradenton.

The second player in the trade had also just cracked Pittsburgh’s top 30 according to MLB Pipeline thanks to a strong showing in the Sally League. 22-year-old outfielder Tito Polo finished the year with a .289/.359/.447 slash line with 16 home runs and 37 steals in 507 plate appearances split between Low-A and High A this season.

The big news with Polo was the power this year. He’d never before hit more than three homers during his four professional seasons. Listed at just 5’9 185 lbs, Polo doesn’t look like a slugger, but he has always shown surprising pop for his size and now seems to be putting it to better use in games as his approach at the plate improves.

Combined with his plus speed, this newfound in-game power definitely makes Polo a prospect worth keeping an eye on. He’s an aggressive base-stealer who has racked up 105 SB in the last three years. That speed also helps make him competent in left and center, although a weak arm makes him a liability in right.

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Most scouts project him as a versatile fourth outfielder who can do a little bit of everything long-term, but the tools are there for more depending on how he develops. He doesn’t strike out a ton, but he also doesn’t walk much. His 18.5% K rate and 6.9% BB% are right in line with his career numbers.

Still just 22, Polo would probably benefit from more time in the Florida State League with the High-A Tampa Yankees to begin 2017. His numbers took a hit after his mid-season promotion this year, but he’s shown the ability to make adjustments in the past. Polo isn’t going to be a star, but a quality starting left fielder at some point down the road isn’t out of the question.

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