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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No. 30, Jermaine Palacios

@sandropacheco71/Twitter

Acquired in trade from the Twins in return for Jake Odorizzi, the next guy on our list will likely jump much higher by mid-season.

No.30, SS Jermaine Palacios, 21 years old

Born: Jul 19th, 1996 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela

Height/Weight: 6’0” 145 lbs Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: by the Twins to a minor league contract on September 6th, 2013 for $70,000

Twitter handle: @JermanPalacios

Twitter profile statement: N/A

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 19th best Twins prospect in 2015 (2016 Handbook)
  • Ranked as the 3rd best prospect in the Appalachian League and 17th best in Gulf Coast League in 2015
  • Did not make BA’s Twins Top 30 list posts in either the 2017 or 2018 handbooks

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 28th
  • Low: 33rd

Jermaine Palacios: Abilities

  • Versatility
  • Strong arm with quick release
  • Good range defensively
  • Has speed to work with on the bases, needs to get better jumps to SB
  • Emerging power

Erik Neander had this to say on his abilities:

“This is somebody that, by our own work and by our own information, what we see here is a lean, wiry Venezuelan shortstop who has had plenty of offensive success,” Rays general manager Erik Neander told MLB.com. “Carries the position defensively well. Very good arm. Very good hands.

” ... He’s someone we think has some offensive upside. He can play shortstop and play it well. All reports on the makeup are very positive. This is someone we think can grow into more physical strength ... might have another gear up from here. You look at what he’s accomplished to date on the field, combined with the tool set, along with the makeup, we think that this is a really exciting player to add to our system.”

  • Abilities notes: Palacios made easy work of the Low-A level but struggled once he got to High-A, leaving many wondering how he’ll come out of the gates in 2018. What we do know is that he can hit the ball well, and to all fields, but still has a lot of work to do at the plate to take a significant step forward.

Joined the Rays by way of....

Trade, with many pondering the following, “although many questioned the light return of unheralded prospect Jermaine Palacios” while Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey had this to note about the trade “It’s tough because we like Palacios a lot,” Falvey said. “But we feel like we have a little bit of depth in the middle infield.”, an indication of how split opinions are on the trade.

Palacios had this to say about the trade and the Twins (to Mariana Guzman),

Latest Transaction: assigned to Charlotte Stone Crabs Feb 18th, 2018

Note - It will be an interesting story to watch — where do all the prospects begin 2018? And Palacios represents one of the more interesting names to watch. While there’s a chance he remains at the High-A level, it may come down to how much time the Rays want him and Lucius Fox to get at shortstop — pushing one of the two to Double-A.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

Stats

Jermaine Palacios 2017

GP 124
GP 124
PA 539
AB 504
Hits 149
Doubles 21
Triples 10
Home Runs 13
RBI 67
SB (CS) 20 (15)
AVG 0.296
OBP 0.333
SLG 0.454
OPS 0.788
BB% 4.1 %
SO% 18.4 %
ISO 0.159
BAbip 0.344
wOBA 0.356
wRC+ 123

Stats Notes: Palacios saw a worrisome drop in ISO from a lofty .224 in Low-A (which he was repeating) to .090, leaving a lot of questions about how his power will progress going forward. And since he doesn’t walk much either (below 5% in 2017), that puts a lot of pressure on his hit tool to carry him going forward.

Interesting Comparison: Alcides Escobar

Both hail from Venezuela from cities that are about 280 miles apart, both are around 6’ tall with slim builds at same age and both hit and throw from the right side.

With more PAs to work with (386 for Escobar and 263 for Palacios at HiA level) and one year younger, Escobar also only managed 2 HR and a sub 5% walk rate. While Escobar did have a slightly better SO%, 14% for him vice 20.2 % for Palacios, he also was behind in ISO with .045 vs .090. Extra note here is that Escobar was also dealing with a broken finger for a while, so that may have impacted his overall stats that season.

Both Escobar and Palacios were noted in this time frame as having above-average arm strength and good speed, but needed work on base-stealing instincts and pitch recognition.

One caveat to note here is that Escobar’s defensive abilities were going to be enough to carry him to MLB as a regular, while Palacios’ defensive abilities are not as highly rated to this point and most tend to point to a utility role for him as a result.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

With the additions of Tristan Gray and Jermaine Palacios to an already loaded with middle infielders system, the Rays have muddied the waters about who may start where in 2017. Luis Rengifo and Lucius Fox were both candidates for the High-A SS job, and we can now include Palacios in that battle.

It seems that versatility — and defensive abilities — will be a key to many of these players’ chances of making it to The Show, so even if they’re sharing time at various positions it may turn out to be a very positive thing. Thus far in his short career as a pro, Palacios has 1 GP at 1B and in LF, 4 GP at 2B, 41 GP at 3B, and 254 GP at SS. His defensive abilities are noted as solid and that combined with versatility makes him an intriguing utility prospect going forward.

One area that many are looking for him to improve is to learn to be more patient at the plate while maintaining his bat speed to make above-average contact. If he’s going to beat some high-end prospects to the majors, having a high OBP ability would help him achieve that goal. And with his ability to spray the ball around and newfound power, his bat could carry him ahead of others.

Having competition for all positions is always a healthy thing for a franchise, and the Rays have it in spades when it comes to infield prospects. Palacios is one to watch going forward as the Rays obviously placed a lot of faith in him when they traded Jake Odorizzi for him straight up.

Jermaine Palacios: Spotlight Videos

Palacios takes a pitch the other way in the first video,

And again here for a triple,

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 550Rays Prospects