Polanco solid in Curve debut

Besides the long legs, one of the things most noticeable about 6-foot-4 Gregory Polanco is his smile, according to Curve manager Carlos Garcia.

That smile was even bigger after the game.

Polanco went 3-for-5 in his first game in Double-A, knocking in two runs as the Curve downed Trenton, 8-4, before 4,674 at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Friday night.

“I feel good for my first game,” Polanco, who joined the team on Friday, said. “I got three hits, two RBIs. That’s very exciting. That’s one step forward for me where I want to get. I feel very excited to be here. I feel comfortable at that.”

Polanco was called up after hitting .312 in 57 games with Single-A Bradenton. Polanco is the highest-rated position player prospect according to Baseball America in the Pirates organization, and he is the fourth-rated prospect behind Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Luis Heredia.

“That kid is going to be one of those impact players,” Garcia said of the centerfielder. “Wherever he goes, the energy is going to be picked up. He is a kid who gives you a lot of energy on the base paths. He gives you a lot of energy on defensive. He’s going to battle at the plate. He’s going to hit line drives. That is one of the pieces we need for this club.”

Despite going 0-for-2 in his first two at-bats, Polanco beat out a dribbler to second for an infield single, showing off his speed. He then stole second base after almost getting picked off. He later singled to third in the seventh inning. The speed that Polanco provides is something that Garcia said he will use to his advantage.

“He is not a guy you are going to punch-out easy,” Garcia said. “He’s going to give you a good bat or a good ball on the ground. If that ball is to the left or right of the defenders, he’s going to have a good chance to beat it up.”

After Casey Sadler went six scoreless innings for the win, Polanco was apart of insurances runs late in the game, driving in a late RBI in the eighth. Nik Turley, who struck out Polanco, got the loss.

Polanco also figures to be an aid on defense at centerfield. With Polanco at center, Garcia said that he plans to shift Mel Rojas Jr., who has played most of the season in center, to left.

“That helps me a lot,” Polanco said. “With my long legs, I move fast. I think that’s one of my best things I got. I think that helps me a lot.”

As for what Polanco said he needs to do to keep up his nights like Friday, continue to stay consistent like he did in Bradenton where he hit 17 doubles and 30 RBIs.

“Trying to do the things I’m doing consistently,” he said. “That’s what I think helps me. Doing what I’m doing and don’t get too comfortable, just be ready.”

Game recap

Key player: CF Gregory Polanco went 3-for-5 with two RBIs in his Double-A debut.

Key play: DH Drew Maggi’s two-run double started a four-run third inning.

Key stat: The Curve went 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position and had two two-out RBIs.

How they scored

Bottom 3rd: Santos doubled, Ngoepe walked, both scored on Maggi double (2-0); Rojas Jr. hit by a pitch, scored Polanco ground out (3-0); Maggi doubled, scored on Dickerson single (4-0).

Bottom 6th: Cunningham homered (5-0); Tejeda walked, scored on error by Blaser (6-0).

Top 7th: Austin singled, scored on passed ball (6-1); Roller doubled, scored on Corona ground out (6-2).

Bottom 7th: Dickerson walked, stole home (7-2).

Top 8th: Flores doubled, scored on Heathcott single (7-3); Heathcott singled, scored on Blaser ground out (7-4).

Bottom 8th: Ngoepe walked, scored on Polanco single (8-4).