Gregory Polanco broke out with an outstanding 2012 season. So far in 2013, he's been on a mission to prove it was no fluke.
The Pirates' No. 4 prospect doubled twice and drove in four runs Thursday night to lead Class A Advanced Bradenton to a 9-1 win over St. Lucie.
Polanco put up the game's first run in the fourth inning when his double brought home Alen Hanson. He helped give the Marauders a 2-1 lead in the sixth when he walked and came around to score on a single by Dan Gamache.
But the 21-year-old outfielder really broke it up one frame later. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Polanco ripped a bases-clearing double to highlight a six-run seventh inning.
The four RBIs represented an early-season high and his most in a single game since he drove in all four runs last July 31 for Class A West Virginia in a 4-2 win over Hagerstown. His career high is six, achieved on June 28, 2010 for the Pirates' Gulf Coast League affiliate.
Through 19 games with Bradenton, the Dominican Republic native owns a .347 average with an .882 OPS, one home run, six doubles and 11 RBIs. He leads the Florida State League with nine steals, is eighth in average and tied for eighth in doubles at this early juncture.
That follows a breakout 2012 season during which Polanco had a .325/.388/.522 slash line with 16 homers and 85 RBIs in 116 games for West Virginia. After not batting higher than .229 in his previous three seasons in the Pirates system, he was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Year and a postseason and midseason All-Star. The effort helped vault him to No. 64 on MLB.com's list of top 100 prospects.
While Polanco has shown consistency this season, Hanson -- the Pirates' No. 3 and MLB.com's No. 54 overall prospect -- has started to turn it on in the Sunshine State. The 20-year-old shortstop went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored Thursday from the top of the Marauders' lineup. He has collected three multi-hit games in his last four contests, during which he is 9-for-18. That has boosted his average from .190 last Saturday to .267.