The Toronto Blue Jays have signed 14th round pick Damiano Palmegiani and 17th round selection Cooper Benson from the 2021 MLB Draft, making that 17 out of 19 picks (no second-round pick this year) to sign on the dotted line.
Ranked by MLB.com as the #245 top draft prospect, Palmegiani was born in Venezuela but grew up in British Columbia before taking his talents to Cal State Northridge back in 2019. After slashing .157/.254/.216 through 51 at-bats, the infielder switched schools and went on to attend the College of Southern Nevada where he played this past season (he did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). He is a product of Vauxhall Academy in Vauxhall, Alberta, and also played 13 games for the Lethbridge Bulls in the Western Canadian League back in 2018, going 4 for 32 with three RBI through 13 games.
Suiting up for the Coyotes this past year, the infielder led the team in OPS (1.388), home runs (26), RBI (81), and slugging percentage (.867%) while also contributing 13 doubles, three triples, and 36 walks with just 38 strikeouts. His raw power is what most likely interested the Blue Jays, as his 26 home runs led Divison 1 JUCO programs, with his quick hands through the box mixed with his 6’1″ frame helping him drive the ball to all areas of the field.
The Toronto Blue Jays have signed INF Damiano Palmegiani and LHP Cooper Benson from the 2021 MLB Draft, bringing the total to 17 players out of 19 to sign with the organization.
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While he was a third baseman with Southern Nevada, there have been questions as to whether the righty hitter can hold on to the position once he turns professional. Scouts believe a transition to either left field or first base may be in his future. Prior to signing with the Blue Jays, Palmegiani had a commitment to Arizona but instead will be turning pro after accepting a $157,500 signing bonus from the Jays.
With his freshman season cut short last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Benson came out of the gate strong in the Sun Devils rotation, starting two games and going 7.0 innings combined without allowing an earned run and only surrendering two hits while striking out 10 batters. He also did not allow a walk this season. Last year, Benson started four games and pitched to a 3.60 ERA through 20.0 innings while striking out 25 batters.
On the mound, the southpaw has a clean, repeatable delivery to the plate and would most likely have shot up the draft boards to a higher round if he did not have to undergo TMJ surgery. With the current timeline, he may be ready to go towards the end of the next season but could be held until early 2023 to ensure full health with no setbacks. Benson is a product of San Luis Obispo High School in California and earned a $125,000 signing bonus with the Blue Jays.
With both Palmegiani and Benson now signed, the Blue Jays only have two players left unsigned from the 2021 MLB Draft in high school players Micah Bucknam and Luke Holman, both with post-secondary commitments for next season and most likely not signing with the organization.