If the descriptions of Gregory Polanco’s fabled athleticism don’t immediately intrigue people, the hard numbers and steady rise through the Pirates’ minor league system hammer home the value of the 22-year-old Dominican outfielder.

Polanco along with right-hander Jameson Taillon highlight a class of prospects who might steal the show at spring training, the yearly harbinger of hope that opens Wednesday when pitchers and catchers report to Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

Every major prospect publication or website has praised the Pirates’ system this winter — ranking it among the best in baseball for the collective depth of high-end prospects, and for specific individuals who project to be major league stars.

Baseball America crowned the Pirates’ system the best in baseball, the Sporting News ranks it among the top 3, and at least seven prospects rank in the top 100 of Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and an annual list by ESPN analyst Keith Law.

“It’s not something that we strive for but it’s something that’s nice, I hope, for our fans to see the depth of our minor league system being recognized,” said general manager Neal Huntington. “It’s a testament to our scouts, international and amateur, and our player-development staff. We’ve talked for years. In our minds, they were doing a great job. Maybe this reaffirms that.”

Huntington inherited the team in 2007 and set out to rebuild from the ground up through player development, scouting and baseball operations.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” he said. “We don’t feel like we’ve got some magic formula but we wanted to accumulate the best talent we could on and off the field and use a systematic approach to develop that talent. It was about helping coaches become better coaches, our evaluators becoming better evaluators. Our players become better players.”

Polanco, on the 40-man roster after making the rise last year from high Class A Bradenton to Class AA Altoona and Class AAA Indianapolis, is fresh off an MVP winter in the Dominican League.