Palmegiani is ranked as just the #18 prospect on MLB Pipeline but after a strong finish to his MiLB season and an impressive Fall League campaign, he's almost certainly going to move up. He primarily played third base at Double-A before moving to first base at Triple-A. In the Arizona Fall League, he moved back to third base for the majority of his games.
"I’m confident in pretty much every position. Ideally I’d like to stay at third, that’s where my game plays the most, with the athleticism and what I can do with the bat."- Damiano Palmegiani to Baseball America
Whether Palmegiani can stick at third base has been the topic of conversation. If he ends up moving to first base long term he faces a difficult route to everyday playing time given that his right-handedness would find him on the weak side of a platoon. He does not have a lot of range and his arm is not nearly as good as Martinez or Barger. However, he has improved his actions and internal clock this year and has made the decision tough for the Blue Jays. Let's dig into the tape at third base, most of what I have available comes from when he was at Double-A.
This is not a routine play but it's one that a third baseman is expected to make. He backhands it at such an angle that he's forced to try and make an acrobatic throw which he simply does not have the arm for. On the next play, he got a similar groundball but does a better job of keeping his body aligned and makes an accurate throw on the run.
Palmegiani plays the position hard and isn't afraid to attempt acrobatic stops and throws. He shows a good internal clock and composure when attempting these plays. Every so often he makes a standout play that only the best third basemen make. Here are some examples.
For Palmegiani it's less about the incredible plays and more about the routine plays going forward. Making routine plays look harder than they need to be is a recurring theme with him. When he corrals the ball he has to do everything very quickly which results in inaccurate and rushed throws. This is a drastic contrast to Barger who looks much more comfortable with all the routine plays and almost always hits the first baseman in the chest. Additionally, his lack of range means he has to leave his feet more often than he should. In the below clip he hits the dirt on a chopper that a lot of third baseman pick standing up. This results in an ill-advised and errant throw.
Based on this year's tape and evaluations from other scouts, here are Palmegiani's Field grades for the main positions he has played.
Palmegiani has progressed to the point that he's no longer projecting as a well below average defender at third base. He's a hard worker with a good sense of what he wants to do on every play but there are things that he's likely to never improve (range, arm strength). Where he can definitely continue to improve is his consistency with the plays he has shown the ability to make. As a first baseman, Palmegiani's glovework and instincts profile well and his range is more typical of the position. He's perhaps a bit undersized there but should continue to improve his footwork around the bag which can be shaky at times (understandable given his inexperience there). The Jays should give him every opportunity to prove he can handle third base but the infielder room at Triple-A remains crowded and he does seem like the weakest defender of the four covered in this article.