Written by Mark Nikolov Photo by Scout.com
Anderson Polanco is a pitching prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization. He was born in Santo Domingo, the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Similar to other prospects that I’ve spoken with, Polanco started playing baseball at a very young age. His pitching repertoire consists of 3 pitches – a fastball, curve and changeup. Anderson told me that he’s done a lot of work on his curve but his favorite pitch is his “cambio” (change in Spanish). He currently profiles as a relief pitcher at the MLB level, but unfortunately an injury from last season has slowed him down some.
Polanco started playing with the Indians at the age of 18 in the Dominican Summer League. He produced great results at that level striking out 63 batters in 61 innings pitched with a 1.77 ERA. At 19, he came over to the US and showed a lot of promise up until last season. In his first appearance at AA Akron, Polanco struggled with his command. He finished up the season with better results at High-A Lynchburg. Immediately after the season he had surgery to fix an injury that had been nagging throughout the year.
Despite some regression last year with his injury and playing at a higher level, Polanco did not sound down on himself when we spoke. He looked back on his time in Akron as a learning experience. “I learned a lot from a lot of good players in Double-A…” he told me. He didn’t sound like he felt completely out of his league at that level. His struggles were more related to an injury that he sustained. The good news is that he’s still young and should be able to make a complete recovery. If he can cut down on his walks, I believe he can eventually return to Akron and flourish there.
Outside of baseball, Polanco enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Anderson has two children that he loves dearly. His Facebook profile is full of family pictures. I think that, perhaps, some time away from baseball will be helpful for him. He was very relaxed throughout the interview and it seems like he has developed some new insights on the game. “This year is a year of recuperation for me,” says Polanco. “I’m not sure what the Indians have in store for me this upcoming season but I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and make improvements in myself.”
Regardless of where he plays this season, Polanco could still have a future in Major League Baseball. In past years he has been heralded as an “under the radar” type prospect with high upside. That upside is still there. Now that he’s had time to reflect on the mental aspect of the game, his upside might be higher than ever. I was particularly impressed by his efforts to improve not only his own life, but the lives of others as well. “I like to collaborate with the young children in the Dominican Republic,” he told me. “A lot of them come from poor areas and they don’t have the opportunities that God has given me. I try to help them out as much as I can.”
Anderson Polanco has thoroughly impressed me as a selfless human being. He’s very concerned with the youth in the Dominican Republic. He has made it a goal not only to make a full recovery and return to baseball, but also to assist other people in his community. Speaking of help and assistance, Polanco really came through for me yesterday. I desperately needed some content for my article of the week and he was nice enough to give me an interview within an hour’s notice. He was very nice and polite with me. I felt as if I was speaking with someone I had known for years. The future is impossible to predict but I hope and pray that Polanco has a bright one ahead of himself. Look for him to return back to Double-A at some point and establish himself as one of the many talented prospects in the Indians organization.