By making his Double-A debut on Friday night, Gregory Polanco made good on a promise.
"A couple times [during Spring Training], in Bradenton, Fla., he told me that this was his goal," Altoona manager Carlos Garcia said. "It's been part of his plan. He said he was going to meet me here in Altoona halfway through [the season], and he did."
The Pirates' No. 4 prospect did more than just show up. He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a stolen base to lead the Curve to an 8-4 victory over visiting Trenton.
"He had some delays with his flight and he was tired, but he said he was ready to play," Garcia said. "I told him if that's the case, then he's playing center field and batting third."
The native of the Dominican Republic batted .312 with 23 extra-base hits and 24 stolen bases in 57 games with Class A Advanced Bradenton in his second full season. The promotion cost him an appearance in Saturday's Florida State League All-Star Game.
Polanco's first Double-A at-bat, against Yankees No. 14 prospect Nik Turley, will look like an ordinary strikeout in the books. But the left-handed hitter saw seven pitches.
"He faced a good left-handed pitcher and he battled and got contact here and there," Garcia said. "He swung once at a changeup in the dirt, but he didn't swing at it the next time."
Facing Turley again with one out and runners on second and third in the third, Polanco drilled a grounder back up the middle. Turley deflected it to second baseman Jose Pirela, who thew Polanco out, but the 21-year-old had his first Eastern League RBI.
In the fifth, Polanco hit a ball into the hole on the right side. Pirela got to it, but Polanco beat the throw, then stole second. He got another infield hit in the seventh before lining an RBI single to center in the eighth.
"Tonight I saw a young man with a lot of ability, a young man who will beat the opposition in a few different ways: offensively, defensively and on the basepaths," said Garcia, a former Major League All-Star. "He's going to have a great impact on our ballclub."
The Curve manager knows there's more developmental work to do concerning Polanco, but he's in no rush to press the outfielder on any particular aspect of the game.
"Right now, at this point, I just want to sit and watch him play. He has a lot to offer and I want to make sure he feels comfortable, so he's able to learn in every game," Garcia said. "And I want to make him understand it's going to be a lot of competition up here, at this level. But I don't think he cares about that too much, he just enjoys playing.
"We just want to keep him healthy, keep him playing the game the right way, which I don't think is going to be a problem for him because that's what he does."
Alex Dickerson, Pittsburgh's 11th-ranked prospect, also reached base three times, swiped two bases, scored a run and knocked in another.
Turley (5-5) went five innings and was charged with six runs on six hits and two walks while striking out two.