MLB: AZ Diamondbacks AJ Pollock
As we get to the half-way point of Spring Training for the Arizona Diamondbacks and as they get ready to travel to Sydney Australia, we need to take a look at A J Pollock. Pollock is having an outstanding camp both offensively and defensively and will be an important member of this team during the regular season.
Pollock was drafted in the first round (17th pick) in the 2009 MLB draft. He was productive in the minor leagues, but was never really looked at as one of the team’s top prospects. The scouts had him as an above average defensive outfielder, but hitting was not considered strength for Pollack. He was listed as a 4th outfielder who would get an occasional start.
Last year Pollock wasn’t expected to start the season with the Diamondbacks. In fact, with the crowded outfield that the Diamondbacks had, it looked like he was going to spend the season at AAA Reno. Then an injury to Adam Eaton opened a spot on the roster for him on Opening Day and he never left, putting together a decent offensive season and playing standout defense in center field. The first two months he was hitting .279 with four home runs, 17 RBI and six stolen bases. Overall he appeared in 137 games and hit .269 with 119 hits and 28 doubles. He speed was showcased in the outfield as he made several diving catches, and showing an above average arm with only 2 errors.
The organization gave Pollock a vote of support when Eaton was traded to the Chicago White Sox in a three-team deal back in December 2013. Although he can play all three outfield spots, Pollock will be given the starting centerfield spot and hopefully will occupy that for most of the 2014 season. This year might also bring some added pressure. He will be called upon to help out Mike Trumbo in left field. While Trumbo has been working with Coach Dave McKay on his defense, it is expected that he will need some time to adjust to the way Chase Field is set up and how to play the outfield wall and corners.
Pollock will need to hit for a better average than last year and increase his stolen-bases. He might see time as a leadoff hitter and will need to get into scoring position. Last year he had a better batting average against left-handed pitching than right-handed. In order to keep his everyday playing time, he will need to show improvement against right handed pitchers. If he gets into a slump, look for Kirk Gibson to possibly set up a platoon with Pollock and Cody Ross or have Gerardo Parra move to center field and put Ross in right field.
Pollock has been working on his hitting stance and style with hitting coach Turner Ward in Spring Training and hopefully the refined approach will bring a better batting average. Drawing more walks is another area he needs to work on. A speedy Pollock on base and in scoring position only helps out the Diamondbacks BIG BAT hitters.
Pollock is not eligible for salary arbitration until 2016 or free agency until 2019, so he looks to be a regular fit for the Diamondbacks for a few years.
I hope to see you at Cactus League Spring Training 2014.
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