Prospect Profile: David Palladino

Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, and the second spot in the lineup
Wednesday Night Open Thread
(Robert Pimpsner)
(Robert Pimpsner)

David Palladino | RHP

Background
Palladino is a local kid from Emerson, New Jersey. He spent his freshman and sophomore years of high school at Paramus Catholic High School before transferring to Emerson High School for his junior and senior years. Palladino earned First Team All-League and First Team All-Bergen County honors in both baseball and basketball in high school, and he was named North Jersey Baseball Player of the Year after pitching to a 1.08 ERA with 19 hits allowed and 131 strikeouts in 72.1 innings as a senior. He also hit .494/.573/.872 with eight homers that year.

Despite the decorated prep career, Baseball America (subs. req’d) did not rank Palladino as one of the 13 best prospects in New Jersey prior to the 2011 draft. The Dodgers selected him in the 13th round (404th overall) but he did not sign and instead followed through on his commitment to the University of South Carolina Upstate. He threw only 38 innings as a freshman with the Spartans (5.21 ERA and 40/23 K/BB) because he hurt his knee and needed surgery to repair tendon damage.

Palladino transferred to Howard College in Texas for his sophomore year, posting a 2.18 ERA with a 99/29 K/BB in 70.1 innings last spring. Draft eligible as a sophomore because he transferred to a two-year school, Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked Palladino as the 38th best prospect in Texas and 304th best prospect overall for the 2013 draft. The Yankees selected him with their fifth round pick (164th overall) and signed him for $371k, roughly $90k above slot. As a draft-eligible sophomore planning to transfer for LSU for his junior year, Palladino had some negotiating leverage, hence the overslot bonus.

Pro Debut
The Yankees assigned the 20-year-old Palladino to Short Season Staten Island after signing. His workload was limited, which is why he threw only 54 innings across 12 starts and three relief appearances. Palladino managed a 4.67 ERA (3.85 FIP) with a bunch of strikeouts (8.17 K/9 and 20.3 K%) and a bunch of walks (4.33 BB/9 and 10.8 BB%) during his limited time with the Baby Bombers.

Scouting Report
First things first: Palladino is a massive human. He is listed at 6-foot-9 and 235 lbs., making him one of the tallest players in professional baseball. That size allows him to pitch downhill effectively and even though he is pretty athletic, repeating mechanics and keeping those long limbs in check is always an issue for tall pitchers. I can’t imagine Palladino will be any different.

Palladino throws easy gas, sitting 90-93 mph with his fastball with minimal effort, and he can reach back for 96-97 when he needs something more. A big-breaking mid-70s curveball is his top secondary offering and he also throws a changeup that tumbles away from lefties. He scrapped a splitter in favor of the changeup last spring. A low-80s slider is his fourth pitch. Palladino’s command comes and goes, plus he isn’t particularly quick off the mound or adept at fielding his position. I can’t find any decent video. Sorry.

2014 Outlook
I’m guessing the Yankees will have Palladino open the coming season in the Low-A Charleston rotation. An assignment to High-A Tampa would be pretty aggressive for a guy who threw only 108.1 innings in college and would only be entering his junior season this spring. It would surprise me if the Yankees held him back in Extended Spring Training, but as a tall pitcher who needs to figure out a consistent delivery, it could happen.

My Take
Big fan. Palladino already has a four-pitch arsenal and his huge build makes me think he’ll develop into a workhorse starter long-term. In addition to the mechanics, Palladino probably needs to develop one of his three offspeed pitches into a true out pitch to reach his ceiling and that’s fine. We’re talking about a fifth round pick who signed for less than $400k. Of course there was going to be something to work on. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with the River Dogs this summer and whether he makes the jump from interesting arm to legitimate big league prospect.

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Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, and the second spot in the lineup
Wednesday Night Open Thread
  • https://twitter.com/Bill_Style Bill Style

    that photo brings up a whole ‘nother level of DERP

    • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?

      +1000. Doofus was the first word that came to mind. Derp was second.

  • Now Batting

    2019 bullpen candidate.

    • Farewell Mo

      LOL

      I was thinking the same thing.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Any kid who hasn’t pitched above short season ball becoming a bullpen piece for the MLB team at any point would be a massive success. We do realize that, right?

        • Farewell Mo

          These comments were made tongue in cheek, not to be taken literally.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Just making sure.

            • Farewell Mo

              You’re the message board police today, huh?

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                If that’s what you want to believe, sure.

                *turns on siren*

        • Billy

          I don’t understand that logic. So if Ian Clarkin becomes a lefty specialist for a couple of years he’s a successful first round draft pick? I agree with your point on Palladino but to lump Clarkin and/or Hensley into that is disingenuous. Those guys floors should be a 4th-5th starter and anything less is a waste. If not, why waste a pick in the first round when you can get quality relievers elsewhere?

          • Preston

            https://docs.google.com/a/pride.hofstra.edu/file/d/0B-772wlhxPhPNjUyY2JiMmItYzJlYi00Yjk5LThlOTUtODkwN2IzMTU5ODIx/edit?hl=en_US

            37.9% of High School players drafted in the first round never make the big leagues. Any time a prospect makes a contribution in the big leagues it is a success no matter where they were drafted.

            • lightSABR

              This is a great link. Who put the data together? And how did they define their categories (all-time great, superstar, etc.)?

              Also, what’s the time period from which the data was drawn? I’m seeing some small sample size problems – in particular, it looks like only nine players have ever been drafted in the first round from a junior college, and two of them became superstars.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I’m willing to entertain several possibilities here, such as the fast-rising college kid never rising, etc., but on Clarkin and Hensley…..yes, if they make it as relievers, they still overcame a hell of a lot and should be considered successes. It’s not disingenuous at all.

            Also, everything Preston cited below.

        • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?

          Pollyanna!

  • Chip

    Sounds like the type of guy that will add a few mph, end up on some top 100 lists and flame out in Double A

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      A far more likely course for any kid who hasn’t even played full-season ball for any franchise.

    • TWTR

      Put a pair of goggles on him, give him an awesome nickname, make him a reliever, and he will be good to go for some ML bullpen…for at least a season or two.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        He’ll then go on to a career as an unsufferable studio analyst.

        Just trade him now.

      • Chris Klement

        That is Eric Plunk without the awesome nickname

  • Robert

    Saw him Pitch in Staten Island. The guy is Huge, very Raw, He is a project. Good Luck to him!!

    • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?

      Raw. And wriggling.

  • Bryan

    Basically Andrew Brackman 2.0. But with lower hype, (ideally) lesser injury concerns, and is not a complete basketcase.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I know I made a Brackman comp below too, but I really don’t believe this to be a case of Brackman 2.0.

      • Bryan

        I didn’t mean it in a bad way. I should clarify that his profile reminds me of Brackman. So he will have a lot of the same hurdles. I just hope this time it works.

        And thank heavens we got him not in the first round.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Yeah, that’s where my comment came from too. Definitely the same hurdles. Huge bonus baby with an MLB deal winds up getting released, with the team eating the rest of the money. Fifth rounder on a reasonable bonus surpasses him. It’d be amusing if it happened.

    • ALZ

      and that is fine. It’s only a 5th round pick. Huge chance he flames out, but there still is a partial chance that he turns into an ace.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Very interested. Definitely stood out to me from the start. Hope to see more good things from him and that the mechanics see some progress.

    It’d be something if this guy went on to a better career than Andy Brackman, wouldn’t it?

    • RetroRob

      Better career than Brackman? I think he’s achieved that already. : -)

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        We’ll always have those couple of innings.

  • PunkPitch

    He looks a little like the guy who hosts Man vs Food. My guess is he eats like him too, and will look like Billy Connor sooner rather than later.Another bonehead pick.

    • Bryan

      Any pick outside of the 1st round that has a chance at being more than simply filler and/or AAAA talent, is not a bonehead pick. This guy is a low risk/high reward player. We didn’t have to break the bank to sign him and he is still only 20 years old. Dude could be awesome. He is simply put the opposite of a bonehead pick.

  • Bob Michaels

    I like the scouting report and hype. i hope he makes it.

  • Low-A Paladin

    Met him in Staten Island on a night where him and Caleb Smith were signing baseballs. Both really nice guys. Palladino shook my hand, and seemed really grateful when I told him that he’d be awesome some day. Also got to see him pitch a different day, and the man is a giant. He’s bound to start throwing high-90s as he fills out, and I would really love to see him succeed.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      These guys are still so far away from the bigs that any fan recognition and belief in them is probably a huge deal.

    • Caballo Sin Nombre

      Do you still have that hand? Have you washed it since?

    • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?

      Love the handle. D&D FTW.

  • Preston

    I am really excited about this draft class. Clarkin and Palladino have huge upside, Jagielo is the guy I wanted them to pick from day one. Katoh and Wade both excite after their debut in the GCL, and how can you not be in love with the tools of Judge. The last time I was really intrigued by more than one or two of our top picks was 2009 with Heathcott, Murphy and Warren at the top. This class has way more upside than that group. I can’t wait for DOTF to start this season.

    • leftylarry

      I understand Clarkin dropped to us because he’s barely 6′ not the listed 6’2.

  • LarryM Fl

    6’9″ throwing downhill is pretty tough to focus on the ball release. Maybe if he can stay on the field and work on his game then we may have something with Mr. Palladino. The reason I say stay on the field. 6’9″ is some big machine with a lot of moving parts.

    • Hawkeye

      I don’t understand that logic- he has a different number of moving parts than a shorter pitcher?

      • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?

        The logic is that with longer limbs there’s more room for error. A 2% delta in say a shoulder rotation looks very different and results in far more variability at the end of a long arm than it does at the end of a short(er) arm. Or leg.

        So, no. No more moving parts. But the parts move greater distances, subjecting performance to a much wider array of outcomes.

  • Danny

    Jon Rauch 2.0

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Rauch wishes he could dial it up like that occasionally. He’d probably not be looking for a new team every season.

  • Mikhel

    It seems he’s one of those classic “huge upside IF he makes it past AA”-“low quality-as-of-now”-type of draft the Yankees make every few seasons.

    It seems either the Yanks don’t know how to draft of they do and their tools to develop players to their full potential is almost non-existant.

    Sure, they’ve developed a few players here and there, specially relief pitchers but the reality is their minor leaguers are a mess in terms of quality.

    I’ve been watching Yankees minor leaguers play in the Caribbean Series and they have “raw” tools but that’s about it:

    Adonis García, a thirdbasemen with Venezuela has made the best plays of the Caribbean Series so far. Covers a lot of ground, makes throws sitting on the ground like Brooks Robinson, Nettles or Caminiti, strong arm, good reflexes and speed but his bat is really bad. Is batting 0.200 in 3 games.

    José Pirela also with the Venezuelan team is a “meh” kind of player, the kid can field a bit, has an average throw, a bit of speed, can bat low 90s fastballs and off-speed pitches but that’s about it, he doesn’t have power of any kind (not even power to hit lots of doubles), his fielding makes Eduardo Núñez look like ‘the wizard of Oz’. Is batting 0.250 in 3 games.

    Another guy who is in the Yankees system (not a minor leaguer produced by the Yanks) is Zelous Wheeler, has demonstrated a LOT of power but is batting 0.167, his only hits have been homeruns (0.667 SLG / 0.973 OPS), the guy can field very well either 3d base or the OF.

    And last, a player who is not in the minor leagues but has made an impact in the last few years in the minor leagues and mexican summer league: Chris Roberson (México), he’s leading the Caribbean Series in AVG, Runs, RBI and HRs… well he was until yesterday when Mexico got the day off. He’s a very good CF, speedy, might be the strongest throw and fastest player in mexican winter league and the Caribbean Series.

    PS
    A former Yankee minor leaguer, Gil Velázquez was second in batting average in the Caribbean Series at 0.600 as of today.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      You’re citing…….those guys?

    • Havok9120

      Good of you to cite the guys widely considered to be at the top of the system.

      Waaaaaaaaaaaiiiiitttt…..

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Good ol’ homegrown Adonis Garcia…..

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Hmm. I’m from Emerson. I wonder if I’m David. I’m not sure. I’d better head to Tampa anyway.

  • lightSABR

    Those 2013 Boston Red Sox sure were terrible, weren’t they? I mean, look at the bWAR totals for some of their players:

    Jackie Bradley: -0.3
    Craig Breslow: 0
    Ryan Lavarnway: 0.2
    John McDonald: -0.1
    Will Middlebrooks: -0.1

    Sure, they won a few games, but the reality is their major leaguers are a mess in terms of quality.

    • lightSABR

      Oops. Intended as a response to Mikhel’s nonsense above.

    • Bryan

      It was most of those guys first time in the bigs. I really like both Bradley and Middlebrooks. Combine them with Boegarts, and you have the makings of a very, very good core group.

  • Scout

    Call me when Palladino reaches AA. Then there’ll be something to talk about.

  • chriskeo

    Faced David in his Senior year of high school, was absolutely filthy back then. Happy to hear the Yankees got him.