Monday, October 12, 2015

Twins Prospect To Watch: Jermaine Palacios

The Twins signed Jermaine Palacios in 2014, when he was just 17 years old. He's listed as a shortstop, although he's played every infield position and left field early in his career. The young Venezuelan is a lean 6'0" 145 pounds, so his build is very much that of a middle infielder.

Unfortunately, the team played Palacios at shortstop a lot this season, and he made 20 errors in 53 games. While errors are hardly a great way to judge a defender, let alone an 18-year-old, 20 is simply too high a number to expect him to remain at shortstop long-term. Without seeing him play it's hard to know if he'd be better suited for second base or an outfield position, but those seem like the most likely landing spots defensively.

Despite his error filled defensive performance this past season, Palacios is starting to show up on some people's radars because all he's done since signing with the Twins is hit. As a 17-year-old last season, Palacios hit .270/.404/.399 in 42 games, adding 14 steals in 17 attempts. He walked 35 times and struck out 37, showing the ability to control the strike zone.

This season, between two rookie level teams, Palacios hit .370/.398/.540. He walked just 12 times compared to 31 strike outs, which is a bit alarming, but his power has improved considerably. Generally with a power increase comes more strikeouts, and that's a worthwhile sacrifice for 120 points on his slugging percentage.

He's likely to receive a promotion to begin next season, and as a 19-year-old playing his first full season at a higher minor league level, he'll be watched closely. If he can continue to hit like he has the last two seasons over a longer season, Palacios could possibly be one of the Twins top prospects at this time next season.  If he fills out and his power continues to improve, he could become one of the best prospects in baseball. The 2016 season is going to be a big one for Palacios. We'll find out if he's the real deal.