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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 53: Yoelvin Polanco

Look for this righty to recalibrate himself for a better 2022, beginning in Birmingham.

It was a rough 2021 for Yoelvin Polanco, but he continues to be promoted aggressively.

Yoelvin Polanco

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
176 pounds
Age: 22
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 70
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 52
SSS rank among all right-handed relief pitchers in the system: 6

Yoelvin Polanco began with the DSL White Sox in 2018 and was a hard-luck hurler, finishing 1-8 during an infamously-atrocious 18-54 season for the team. But his stellar 3.66 ERA, along with his age, that got Polanco a Stateside assignment the next year.

In 2019, Polanco was younger than league average for Arizona, but rocked a 3.48 ERA in 15 games in the AZL. In a short (three games) cup of coffee with Great Falls in High-Rookie that year, the youngster was roughed up a bit, to the tune of five earned runs and a 6.43 ERA. But that was an aggressive advance for him, placing Polanco a full year-and-a-half younger than Pioneer League average. Perhaps more importantly, Polanco’s control had been stellar at every level as a pro. His 5.65 strikeouts per walk put him in the 93rd percentile among his peers, per Baseball Cube.

After the 2020 season was cancelled by the pandemic, Polanco pitched for three teams in 2021. The righty struggled at the outset for Kannapolis, with a 6.68 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 13 appearances for Kannapolis. He did receive a call-up to Winston-Salem, however, and fared quite well there, with a 2.77 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in seven relief outings. Polanco spent the final couple months of the season shuttling back and forth between Winston-Salem and Birmingham, but with the Barons, Polanco struggled in a small (four-game) sample size, with a 7.71 ERA and 2.12 WHIP. Combined with all three teams, Polanco compiled a 5.73 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 24 appearances (two starts). In his 48 2⁄3 innings in 2021, he surrendered 58 hits (.284 OBA) and 14 walks (6.3%) while striking out 46 (20.7%).

While at Kannapolis this past season, lefties hit Polanco at a .354 clip while righties hit .276 against him. This disparity is representative of his splits from his two previous years, so Polanco needs to find a way to better stifle lefties. MLB Pipeline ranks him 30th among Sox prospects, in large part due to his control. While his control was indeed good this year, Polanco’s command was not, as hitters took advantage of many mistakes he made in the middle of the plate. In addition to his control, Polanco offers a 92-94 mph heater that occasionally reaches 96 also grades at 55. Polanco also received 50 grades for his curveball, slider and changeup, but it’s that changeup he especially needs to improve in order to secure better chances of success in the future.

Polanco’s results certainly weren’t what he wanted in 2021, but to be fair, he was younger that his competition at all three stops this year — and at Birmingham, about 30 months younger. He got pushed so rapidly partly because the organization wanted to see if he was worthy of protection for the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. The Sox opted not to protect him, and the lockout saw the MLB Rule 5 cancelled, anyhow.

It seems a fairly safe bet that Polanco will return to Birmingham to begin the 2022 season.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

53. Yoelvin Polanco, RHRP
54. Taylor Broadway, RHRP
55. Noah Owen, RHRP
56. Luis Curbelo, 3B
57. Bryce Bush, RF
58. James Beard, CF
59. Xavier Fernández, C
60. Wilber Sánchez, SS
61. Kohl Simas, RHRP
62. Johan Dominguez, RHSP
63. Jagger Rusconi, 2B
64. Ronaldo Guzman, LHSP
65. Laz Rivera, 3B
66. Adam Hackenberg, C
67. Will Kincanon, RHRP
68. Lane Ramsey, RHRP
69. Tommy Sommer, LHSP
70. Randel Mondesi, RF
71. Shawn Goosenberg, 2B
72. Zack Muckenhirn, LHRP
73. Cameron Butler, CF
74. Godwin Bennett, RF
75. Logan Glass, CF
76. Dario Borrero, 1B
77. Craig Dedelow, RF
78. Carlos Hinestroza, RHRP
79. Gunnar Troutwine, C
80. Kade Mechals, RHSP
81: Caberea Weaver, CF
82. Layant Tapia, SS
83. Homer Cruz, RHRP
84. Kaleb Roper, RHSP
85. Jerry Burke, RHSP
86. Emerson Talavera, RHRP
87. Isaiah Carranza, RHSP
88. Davis Martin, RHSP
89. Tyler Osik, 1B
90. Samil Polanco, 3B
91. Manuel Veloz, RHRP
92. Pauly Milto, RHRP
93. Fraser Ellard, LHRP
94. Colby Smelley, C
95. Manuel Guariman, C
96. Everhett Hazelwood, RHRP
97. Garrett Schoenle, LHRP
98. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
99. Anderson Comas, RF
100. Jake Elliott, RHRP