Latin Wings Soaring in Rochester

Major League Baseball has taken huge strides into making America’s pastime a global pastime. The international talent is incredible; we have seen the show taken by storm. All clubs are looking to expand their global scouting and there are a few teams who have already figured it out. Though the Minnesota Twins haven’t been a major threat to a World Series title since the early 1990s, they’ve managed to stay relevant. Relevant clearly wasn’t enough, so the Twins made some adjustments and sought out top ballplayers somewhere other than the off-season free agency and it worked, especially with the Latin-born ball players. Two of their top four prospects within the organization come from a Latin background. Standing at number four is shortstop/second baseman, Jorge Polanco and the most highly regarded prospect for the Twins ranked number one overall is starting pitcher, Jose Berrios. Both have made Rochester home this season, dawning the Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins Triple-A Affiliate) uniforms and both young Red Wings have soared.

After signing Jorge Polanco for $750,000 in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic, the Twins have been extremely optimistic about his potential. He was an international gem with all his tools being above average with the possible exception of power. He hadn’t shown much pop in a sense when you’re talking about home runs, but his gap-to-gap strength left hope that Polanco still has undeveloped power. This season in Rochester, he has given local fans something exciting to watch and has shown promise for die-hard Twins fans relying on the farm system– his 9 home runs are more than any other season (other than 2013 where he belted 10), but just a reminder, we’ve still got plenty of baseball left meaning Polanco will have a shot at setting a career best. His plate discipline has always been very prized along with his stellar glove (only one error in all of 2016).  In the minors, he’s had a career .286 average with 34 HRs and 288 RBIs (from 2010 to 2016). He’s also had his few short stints in the majors, in 42 at-bats he was batting .262 with just one lone home run and eight runs batted in. Polanco has really developed over the years, and he’s not far from his permanent promotion. But with his primary position being second base and Brian Dozier locked in Minnesota, Polanco is focused on establishing himself as a defensive presence at all positions, similar to a Martin Prado.

Polanco isn’t the only Red Wing who has had a stint in the big leagues. Jose Berrios has been there as well. The 22-year-old Puerto Rican made his debut on April 27, 2016. He was called up to replace Ervin Santana, who went down with a minor injury. Berrios had some struggles — maybe his promotion was too soon — so he was sent back down to Rochester to continue his development. Berrios’s name has already circled league wide, he played in the 2014 and 2015 Futures’ Game for Team World. He has been a Minor League All-Star in three consecutive seasons, including this year where he was representing Rochester. He currently stands at a 9-4 record with a 2.42 ERA. Berrios has all the talent in the world. I project him to be a strong second starter who could bolster any rotation. He’ll likely be averaging a consistent 14 to 16 wins per year, with 18 wins being a possibility when he can really string together his best arsenal. His game is a near resemblance to the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez. Martinez has shown big league success posting a 2.83 ERA this season and Berrios is likely to follow these steps. Berrios has already developed massive amounts, especially since the Twins picked him up in 2012.

It’s no coincidence that the Red Wings are still in playoff contention thanks to the help of the team leader in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average, in Berrios and also with the constant production from one of the team’s biggest offensive pieces in Polanco. Frontier Field has looked like a Fourth of July firework show with all the explosive talent playing and it’s a must watch for baseball fans across the area.

All statistics are as of July 22, 2016.

Steven Cardona is a Senior Editor for Legends on Deck® and Legends on Deck®enEspañol. He is an undergraduate business student at the University of South Florida who lives in Naples, Florida. He worked with the Fort Myers Miracle in 2014 as a Public Relations intern. In 2016, he continued his work experiences within America’s pastime with the New York Mets as an American Culture Instructor at the Mets Academy in the Dominican Republic. He has an immense passion for the game of baseball and has showcased his love on Legends On Deck.

Legends On Deck® was created so avid baseball fans can read about the Stars of today and the Legends of tomorrow. We are proud to be partnering with CNY Latino, as we will contribute monthly baseball stories and photographs covering your favorite local baseball teams and their Latino stars from professional organizations such as the Syracuse Chiefs, Rochester Redwings, Binghamton Mets, Auburn Double Days, and the Tri – City Valley Cats.

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