Polanco shows some power after adding weight

Polanco shows some power after adding weight

TAMPA, Fla. -- In Gregory Polanco's crowded tool chest, power is not the most obvious asset. Yet.

Polanco's plate coverage, fielding range and basepath speed are among the things that jump out at you. The gap-power has already been on display, but not the over-the-fence power. A career total of 34 homers in 1,495 Minor League at-bats doesn't shout "corner outfielder," a power position the Pirates have in mind for Polanco.

So he dedicated his offseason to doing something about it.

"During the winter, I worked on getting a little more power, to feel better. I put on eight pounds," Polanco, who's ranked by MLB.com as the No. 13 prospect in baseball, said.

He felt even better after giving an example of the added power in Thursday's Grapefruit League game here against the Yankees: Polanco pulled a 1-1 breaking pitch from David Phelps in the first inning for a home run, his first hit of the spring and the Bucs' first run of their 8-2 victory over the Bronx Bombers.

"I want to improve my hitting," Polanco said of his spring-long focus.

Thursday's start was Polanco's first, and he got to make it in center field, with Andrew McCutchen sitting out the trip. Polanco knows he can't count on making many starts there, but the familiarity with the surroundings helped him relax.

"It felt natural," he said. "I played center field every day in [the Dominican Winter League]."

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.