Polanco is slated to start the upcoming season at Triple A Indianapolis.
"He showed some very positive signs when he moved to Double-A last year," said Pirates' GM Neal Huntington. "As many walks as strikeouts, drove the ball, but also showed signs that he had some work to do. Like Gerrit Cole I don't want to close the door completely… as I've done in the past. But it's going to be awfully hard for us to see Gregory Polanco ready [out of spring training] based on what we saw last year, based on what we saw this winter, more-so than what we see next spring."
At the MLB Winter Meetings manager Clint Hurdle called Polanco a special player and indicated the franchise is hopeful for that midseason promotion.
"Our goal is to try and keep him on a track where if need be he could join us, possibly on the back end of the season, somewhere along the lines of a Gerrit Cole did if it works out that way," Hurdle told host Harold Reynolds. "But he's developing well. He's learning lessons. He's getting better every day.
"Polanco is special. Special. The physical presence? I haven't seen the physical presence since maybe a young Darryl Strawberry broke in as far as size," said Hurdle. "He's tall, he's strong. He runs. He runs in the fashion Larry Walker used to run, because the strides are so long. Doesn't look like he's fast but when it all gets done, you look at the clock and say, ‘Man, he didn't get down there that quick?' He's very gifted and he's getting closer every day."
Polanco has played mostly center field in the minors, but that won't be the case at Indianapolis.
"We will we'll bounce him to all three outfield positions. Assuming he goes back to Triple-A with us, he'll play some center, some left, but it'll be primarily right," said Huntington.