Jays From the Couch, Ryan Mueller, reviews Blue Jays Joshua Palacios 2016 season and finishes it off with a brief interview
A wrist injury, which prevented Joshua Palacios from finishing his college career on the field, didn’t seem to hold him back in his first professional season. It is unlike that Toronto would have had the opportunity to scoop Palacios up in the 4th round, had it not been for that wrist injury.
2016 In Review
With the wrist rehabbed, the Blue Jays decided to start the talented outfielder off slowly. Joshua started his professional baseball career as a member of the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. It didn’t take long for Palacios to prove two things: 1. The wrist was good to go, and 2. He needed a new challenge. So, after just 13 games with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays Palacios, skipped over the Appalachian League and joined the Northwestern League Vancouver Canadians.
It seemed that Palacios relished the challenge of facing more advanced opponents. He had 5 multi-hit games in his first 10 games with the C’s. Palacios would finish his Vancouver career with 12 multi-hit games, in just 28 GP. Of those 12 multi-hit games four were of the 3-hit variety. It appeared as though the young man was gaining confidence with each promotion. He went from posting a .315 wOBA in the GCL to posting an outstanding .432 wOBA in the NWL.
The whirlwind rookie season continued for the Brooklyn native when he was promoted to Lansing of the Midwest League on August 27th. Palacios played 9 games with the Lugnuts and continued to roll, collecting hits in 7-of-9 games and started his Lansing career off with a 5-game hit streak. He had 5 multi-hit games with the Lugnuts. On September 2nd, Palacios had a .455 batting, a 5-game hit streak with the Lugnuts, 19-game hit streak that extended back to Vancouver, and had reached base in 32 straight games.
Despite brief stints across three different level, Palacios had no problems showcasing a good feel for hitting, advanced pitch recognition, good speed, and good play in the outfield. In 50 games, he batted .330 with 13 doubles, 3 triples, 18 BB, 26 K and 8 stolen bases.
Palacios played mainly LF as a member of the Auburn Tigers. Despite this, Palacios has yet to play a minor league game in LF. It would appear the Blue Jays feel Joshua has the talent to play CF. He did nothing to dissuade their faith. With 33 games in CF under his belt, Palacios showed he is very capable posting a 2.21 range factor. He also played 16 games in RF (1.25 RF) and zero games in LF.
Corner OFs typically possess homerun power, an area Palacios’ game that is in question and will need to be developed. Palacios posted ISO’s of .061, .118 and .079 starting in the GCL and ending in the MWL. Wrist injuries are very slow to heal, they also tend to sap the power out of a player’s swing. This makes his 13 doubles and 3 triples even more impressive. A low ISO is fine for a CF with 20-30 SB speed, which Palacios very well could become; however, Baseball America feel that Palacios profiles as a future 4th outfielder,
However, CF with 20-30 SB speed can get away with low isolated power numbers. At this point it is unclear whether Palacios fits this model and we won’t know until the wrist is completely healed…..so 2017. In the interim, we turn to a Baseball America scouting report to get some perspective:
He’s a left fielder for Auburn who has a good swing and potentially above-average bat thanks to his natural rhythm at the plate and feel for hitting. He’s an average runner who fits a tweener profile, with his power falling below what scouts look for in a corner profile, so he’ll likely be tried in center field as a pro to see if he can be a future fourth outfielder. (link)
Assessing 21-yr-olds can be tricky, but based on Joshua Palacios first-year of professional the BA assessment is pretty close. I’d argue that Josh Palacios did enough at the plate- high BB%, low K%, high BA and decent SB number- to kick the ‘tweener’ profile. While the Brooklyn native may not have ‘elite’ speed, his baseball IQ will allow him to make speed a part of his game. Add all these factors together and the Blue Jays possess a top of the order talent.
Look for Palacios to start the season where he ended ‘16, as a member of the Lugnuts. I’d like to see Palacios spend longer than a month at level to see how he performs when a level adjusts to him. I fully expect him to make the necessary adjustments to succeed in MWL. Look for the 4th rounder to eclipse double-digit stolen bases and challenge for double-digit home runs. This will put him in line to finish the year in Dunedin, with his sights set on Double-A in 2018.
You had a busy 2016. After breezing through the Gulf Coast League, you spent some time in Vancouver with the Canadians, before capping off a successful rookie season in the Midwest league with the Lansing Lugnuts.
RM: Knowing that you only had 13 games with the GCL Blue Jays and understanding everyone in the minors are all very talented, was there one guy during your time with the GCL Blue Jays that stood out above the rest? A guy that really impressed you with his skill set or work ethic?
RM: You were so valuable batting 2nd for the Auburn Tigers. Since joining the Blue Jays organization, you’ve batted all over the place. Knowing your skills better than anyone, what spot in the batting order best suits your skills?
RM: I’ve heard that you were a catcher at one point. What prompted the switch to the outfield? And which OF position do you see yourself settling into?
*Featured Image Credit: slgckgc UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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