The Toronto Blue Jays are finally in the win column for the first time this spring as they pounded the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-0 Tuesday in Bradenton. Contributing to the cause was former C’s outfielder Joshua Palacios, who scored a pair of runs, including his first professional homer. The Brooklyn, New York native scored his second run after a base hit by fellow former C’s outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. on a day in which he went 1-for-3.
Palacios arguably had the best debut season out of the Blue Jays draft class of 2016. Save for not putting a ball over the fence, the fourth-round pick (132nd overall) did almost everything expected of him by hitting a combined .330/.397/.426 with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, Vancouver Canadians and Lansing Lugnuts. The former Auburn Tiger put together an on-base streak of 38 games, including all 26 games in which he recorded a plate appearance with Vancouver. That does include not his C’s debut in which he entered the game as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning of a game against the Eugene Emeralds at Nat Bailey Stadium July 21.
Joshua Palacios with manager John Tamargo Jr. during his July 21 debut in Vancouver.
If Palacios’ debut as a pro is any indication, the Jays may have gotten a steal in last year’s draft. Former Blue Jays outfielder and former Auburn Tiger Gabe Gross believes the 6-foot-1, 193 pound Palacios would have gone higher in the draft than teammate Anfernee Grier, the 46th overall pick by Arizona, had Palacios not missed a month with a wrist injury that he suffered by making a diving catch.
“(Palacios) is a guy that I thought could’ve been in a similar spot as Anfernee if he’d stayed healthy, hit around .400, hit a few more home runs, stole a few more bases in the SEC. He has that ability to get the bat in the slot more consistently than most prospects his age.”
Gross — now an SEC Network/ESPN analyst — also added Palacios “could replicate his swing better than many amateur hitters.”
Noting Palacios was a switch-hitter in high school, MLB.com praises Palacios’ quick left-handed swing in making “consistent hard contact” and “producing line drives”. The MLB website also notes his ability to manage the strike zone as evidenced by drawing a walk in 11 percent of his plate appearances with the C’s. MLB.com assigned Palacios a ’50’ grade for hitting, running and throwing on the 20-80 scouting scale. His best tool is his running, which was rated a 60. At the other end of the spectrum, his power was given a 40 rating. He’s given an overall grade of 45, which is considered to be slightly below average, and a projection of being a fourth outfielder in the bigs.
MLB.com rated Palacios the 15th best prospect in the Blue Jays system in its latest Top 30 rankings. Batter’s Box rated him slightly lower by placing him 17th, as did the folks at Bluebird Banter. This should speak to the much-improved farm system in Toronto that a season like the one Palacios enjoyed only places him midway through the team’s Top 30 prospects.
It will be interesting to see if Palacios can improve his stock as it is likely he will begin his first full season next month in Lansing.