#MLBPlayers411 | Jorge Polanco
If fighting through your first extended slump is part of becoming a big leaguer, Jorge Polanco seems to be passing the test.
The switch-hitting, 24-year-old shortstop, today's #MLBPlayers411 subject, got another two hits in the Twins' win over the Brewers on Tuesday night and is now 9-for-17 over the last six games following a brutal early summer slump during which he lost his starting job and faced fan scrutiny as he searched for answers.
Jorge, a former Top 100 prospect, got just eight hits in 77 at-bats (.104) from June 24 through Aug. 1 and the Twins began platooning him with Ehire Adrianza and Eduardo Escobar at shortstop, but the club wasn't about to give up on a young talent it has nurtured for eight years.
“We're monitoring him,” manager Paul Molitor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune at one point. “Planting a lot of positive seeds with him.”
For his part, Polanco tried to avoid panic and remember the skills and approach that had brought him from San Pedro de Macoris to the major leagues. He didn't mess around with his stance or his swing because he didn't believe his problems were mechanical.
Pitch selection – patience – was another thing. He had the reputation of knowing the strike zone well but he had found himself chasing pitches, so he worked with coaches on that. There was no “ah ha” moment, but less than a week ago hits started dropping again for Jorge.
He got four hits in his first four games in August then on Monday night he exploded for four hits in a comeback win over the Brewers and got two more last night in his sixth consecutive start.
“The game is more mental than anything,” Polanco said “Sometimes when things don't go so well, I worry too much. I shouldn't worry as much as I do, but it's one of those things where you just keep thinking about it. And that doesn't help.
“I told myself, control what you can control. I was on the bench, but I knew if I kept working and doing my thing, it would change. I just keep working. I'll always keep working.”
This is Polanco's first full season with the Twins. He played nine games and got 20 plate appearances combined in 2014 and 2015 while spending most of that time with first Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester.
Splitting time between Rochester and Minnesota in 2016, he batted .282 with a .332 on-base average and played well defensively, showing the Twins he wasn't overmatched in the major leagues.
Now he seems to have survived the first big adversity test of his big-league career, which is a welcome development for Molitor.
“He was out there getting early work with a little bigger smile,” the manager said on Tuesday. “We're just happy to see it's turned here in the short term, in terms of quality at-bats that have come with the reward of some hits.”
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