In a year where the Staten Island Yankees made the New York-Penn League playoffs, they didn’t have many representatives in the league’s All-Star Game. In fact, the only player who was a late selection to play in the game from the Baby Bombers was infielder Jose Polonia.
Polonia was signed by the Yankees as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic back on July 25, 2014. Over the course of his four years in the organization, he has a slash line of .269/.329/.306 with a home run, 43 RBI’s, and 14 stolen bases out of 22 chances.
While Polonia has not advanced past the Short-Season level in the organization, the 22-year-old has shown some good things in small sample sizes since he has never played in more than 44 games in a particular season. He has also shown versatility in the field with his ability to play the four infield positions as well as left field.
Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights Polonia has had in the Yankees organization so far:
Shortly after getting signed, Polonia appeared in ten games for the Dominican Summer League Yankees 1 team and made his professional debut on July 30. In those ten games, he had 12 hits, had seven runs, hit one home run, and drove in three runs.
Out of those 12 hits, four of those came in one game. On August 14 against the DSL Nationals, he went 4-for-4 and hit the only home run of his professional career up to this point as the Yankees lost 12-8.
In those ten games, Polonia played an equal amount of time at second base and shortstop. It wasn’t until the following year when he would try the corner positions in the infield.
Polonia got a longer look in the DSL during 2015 as he got the chance to play in 41 games. He hit .318, drove in 18 runs, and had an on-base percentage of .371. One of the unique things about that season for him was that he had the same number of walks and strikeouts (11).
On that second DSL team, he was sixth on the team in .OBP (minimum 100 at-bats) and was seventh on the team in hits (41). But, he also got a chance to be a pitcher in a handful of games.
In four relief appearances, he went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and he had three strikeouts in 3.1 innings.
As for his offense, Polonia had seven extra-base hits (four doubles and three triples). He had multiples hits in a game 12 times, including four hits against one of the two DSL Rangers squads on July 1 (4-for-5). Over his final 24 games of the season, he hit .341.
In the field, Polonia played mostly at the hot corner (32 games) and had 15 errors. He did play at least a game at shortstop, second base, and first base as well.
Polonia was back on the DSL 1 team in 2016, but his stint there wasn’t that long after the great start he had to his season. In 19 games, he hit .351 with 11 RBI’s and had an on-base percentage of .448. Due to that success, he got promoted to the Gulf Coast League West Yankees.
In fact, Polonia would play 25 total games for the East and West affiliates down in the GCL. But, he did not have much success as he hit .205 with the East squad, only drew two walks, and struck out 12 times.
Between the two leagues, Polonia spent the bulk of his time at second base (27 games) over third base (eight games). He did have 16 errors while at second, so the errors were still an issue despite changing his main position.
While Polonia only hit .215 in 39 games last season in the DSL, GCL, and Staten Island, he did get the chance to make his first minor league All-Star Game with the SI Yanks.
During his time in Staten Island, Polonia did not have a single extra base hit. Despite the lack of doubles and triples, he was still just outside the top ten in the hits category for the team (23).
On defense, Polonia had an improvement from the two prior years as his error total went down to just five across the three leagues. While in Staten Island, he was mainly at second base (12 games) and third base (17).
Heading into this season, Polonia is likely to start at one of the Short-Season or Rookie affiliates. But, if the offense can improve as fast as his defense appears to be going, then the future is bright for him. However, it is tough to stand out when the Yankees have a lot of depth at infield positions, so versatility will be a key for him going forward.
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