Outfielder Gregory Polanco and right-hander Jameson Taillon have collected plaudits all offseason as the Pirates' top two hopes for the future. Now, at least one respected national publication has accelerated their clocks.
In its Baseball Preview, USA Today gave each a nod as the likely 2014 National League Rookie of the Year.
The most popular ROY choice in a survey of the paper's editorial staff was Billy Hamilton, who is replacing departed Shin-Soo Choo as the Reds' center fielder. However, an editor went with Polanco, while national baseball writer Paul White sided with Taillon.
Two interesting things about those picks: In their entire history, the Pirates have fielded only one NL Rookie of the Year, and not until Jason Bay claimed the honor in 2004; and neither Polanco nor Taillon is expected to begin the season in the Majors.
The team is sworn to patience, allowing extensive seasoning at Triple-A Indianapolis for both. Polanco has a grand total of nine Triple-A at-bats and Taillon made six starts for the Indians at the end of last season.
Obviously, someone thinks that either their Spring Trainings will be compelling enough for the Pirates to revise their thinking, or that they will arrive midseason with enough fanfare and impact to head off the rookie class.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.