Cleveland Guardians prospect Richie Palacios is on the verge of making his major league debut with the big league club. The 24-year old 2018 3rd round pick out of Towson University is on the fast track despite missing two years of development.
Palacios spent three years at Towson hitting a combined .324 with 19 HR's, 98 RBI's and a .929 OPS in 163 games from 2016 to 2018. In that span he also took part in two college summer leagues hitting a combined .292 in 51 games.
The Guardians made him the 103rd pick in the 2018 MLB draft taking him in the 3rd round. Palacios did what he does best...hit the ball. In 45 combined games with the Arizona league, Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Lake County Captains, Palacios hit .361/.421/.528 with 6 HR's, 30 RBI's and a .960 OPS. He played 38 games at second base and one at shortstop.
In March of 2019 Palacios suffered a torn labrum while with the Low A Lynchburg Hillcats and had to have season ending surgery. Then came 2020, and just when he was healthy and ready to take the field again, COVID-19 hit. The pandemic shortened the major league season and completely wiped out the minor league seasons across the board. Would the two-year layoff affect Palacios swing? The short answer was a resounding NO!
Palacios began the 2021 season at AA Akron as the starting second baseman. His bat picked up right where it left off in 2018 as he hit .299/.389/.496 with 24 doubles, 3 triples, 6 HR"s and 36 RBI's to go along with 33 walks in 244 at bats. He would play 42 of his 67 games at second base where he committed 5 errors for a .973 fielding percentage.
The AA success earned him a promotion to AAA Columbus on July 31st. The jump to AAA did not intimidate Palacios. In 37 games with the Clippers he hit .292/.434/.416 with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 12 RBI's to go along with 25 walks in 113 at bats. His total stat line from 2021 was:
.297/.404/.471, 33 2B's, 4 3B's, 7 HR, 48 RBI's, 58 BB, 20 SB, .874 OPS
At the AAA level Palacios logged 26 of his 36 games at second base committing only 2 errors for a .981 fielding percentage. With the logjam of talent the Guardians have on the middle infield, they began to experiment with Palacios in the outfield as he appeared in 22 games in either CF or LF between AA and AAA. His speed and athleticism translate well to the outfield.
Palacios outfield transition continued after the regular season when he was selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League. He played 20 games with the Scottsdale Scorpions all coming on the outfield (12 in LF & 8 in CF) committing 1 error for a .957 fielding percentage. It was clear that the Guardians wanted Palacios to get more work in the outfield in preparation for 2022.
Coming into the 2022 season the Guardians currently only have one spot in the outfield nailed down with Myles Straw in centerfield. They are expected to add an outfielder once the lockout ends. That leaves one open starting outfield spot open. The fact that Palacios did not miss a beat in 2021 after missing the previous two seasons shows his tremendous talent and work ethic. It is for that reason that you cannot discount Palacios as an outfield candidate for the Cleveland Guardians in 2022 and beyond.
Make sure you check out all of our podcasts at Believeland Media LLC! Click on the images below to access.