Toronto Blue Jays 2017 top prospects: #15 OF Joshua Palacios

Feb 23, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitchers field ground balls during practice at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitchers field ground balls during practice at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Blue Jays 4th round pick in the 2016 draft got of to a great start in the short season leagues.  The future looks bright for this solid hitter.

The Blue Jays drafted Joshua Palacios in the 4th round out of Auburn University this past season.  The initial profile on Palacios was that he makes solid contact but had average tools in the outfield.  Along with those advanced tools at the plate he has plus speed.  The Blue Jays saw something they liked in the 21-year-old outfielder though and so far they have been rewarded for it.

Name: Joshua Palacios
Position: OF        Age: 21
Height: 6’1”    Age: 193 lbs.
Throws: Right            Bats: Both
Acquired: 4th round pick (2016 Draft)

Palacios got his first taste of Pro ball with the Bluefield Blue Jays.  His production was average for 13 games but he showed some power to the gaps during his quick time with the Bluefield team.  He was quickly promoted to the Vancouver Canadians after showing an advanced approach at the plate.  This is where he really took off.

Palacios played in 28 games with the Canadians and raked while he was there.  He would go on to hit .355 with seven doubles and three triples.  He also scored 15 runs and drove in 13.  He continued to show a solid approach at the plate as he only struck out 17 times while taking 14 walks with the Canadians.  This mature plate discipline allowed him to compile a .437 on base percentage.

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All this success at the short season single-A level earned a quick audition with the Lansing Lugnuts in the Midwest League.  He spent nine games with the Lugnuts and continued to crush the baseball, hitting .342 with three doubles.  This was just a glimpse of what Palacios could do in Lansing if given a shot.

Many scouts liked the hitting talents and speed of Palacios prior to the draft.  They also seemed to agree that his arm might be lacking to play centre field.  He has been rated as having an average arm and might not have the instincts to stick in center.

With the Blue Jays organization he did play centre and right field.  He performed well at both positions but through 50 games they might not be seeing the entire picture just yet.

His bat appears to be ready to go.  He did not skip a beat after ditching the aluminum bat and continued to hit crisp line drives.  Palacios is known for making solid contact and that will play well with his above-average speed.  He can live in the gaps and just eat up the base paths.  So far in pro ball he has been an incredible hitter and controls the zone.  This is rare in a player his age and it has given him good pitches to drive.  This typically leads to a higher batting average by sitting on a good pitch.

In the above video you can see the power Palacios has to the gaps.  He owns a quick and compact swing that allows him to slash the ball to all fields.  His stroke has a nice upper cut to it that produces plenty of line drives.  These hard-hit balls coupled with his speed led to plenty of extra base hits in his first 50 games.

As he matures, some of these line drives could scrape over the wall for a few home runs.  Especially in a symmetrical field like the Rogers Centre where the close corners are made for a hitter like Palacios.  His swing and style of play reminded me of Kenny Lofton‘s style.  The both have solid power to the gaps and enough speed to stretch singles into doubles.

Palacios is probably destined to start the season in Lansing after the short debut last season.  If he continues to hit like he did last season he will not be there for long.  He could have the hitting tools to accelerate quickly through the Blue Jays system.  If things go well for him this year again he could end this coming season with a quick sampling of double-A ball, even.  The Jays have needed a player that could be an igniter at the top of the lineup.  Palacios could become that player in the next few seasons if he picks up where he left off this past season.

Next: Blue Jays land Saltalamacchia for backup catching role

Top-30 Blue Jays prospect rankings:
#30: RHP Jordan Romano     #29: RHP Yennsy Diaz     #28: CF Reggie Pruitt
#27: 1B Ryan McBroom     #26: CF Roemon Fields     #25: 2B Cavan Biggio
#24: RHP Jose Espada     #23: RHP Patrick Murphy     #22: C Danny Jansen
#21: OF Dwight Smith Jr.     #20: RHP Zach Jackson     #19: RHP Francisco Rios
#18: OF Harold Ramirez     #17: C Max Pentecost     #16: Ryan Borucki