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Cubs' Daniel Palencia Looks Ready To Take Off

After striking out eight while allowing just two hits in five innings in his final start in the High-A Midwest League playoffs, Daniel Palencia spent most of the winter at the Cubs’ complex in Mesa, Ariz.

And during a scrimmage in early March, the 23-year-old righthander displayed similar dominance by striking out five of the six batters he faced in front of Cubs executives and at least a dozen scouts.

“It looks like he’s ready to take off,” Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said at the time.

While many Cubs pitching prospects are attempting to expand their pitching repertoire by learning the “sweeper,” a slider with a greater horizontal break, Palencia continues to dominate with a fastball touching triple digits.

Palencia’s fastball could put him on a fast track as a reliever, though the Cubs have been deliberate about developing high school and international pitchers.

Palencia has shown the ability to sustain success as a starter armed with a knee-buckling low-90s slider, a changeup and curveball that froze his teammates during the scrimmage.

“We haven’t made any determination on what his future is,” Banner said of Palencia, who signed with the Athletics out of Venezuela in 2020 and was acquired by Chicago with outfielder Greg Deichmann at the 2021 trade deadline for reliever Andrew Chafin.

“We’re focusing on getting him as many reps as we can on the mound. His performance will dictate things from there. He’s been working hard on his ability to execute all four of his pitches, and we definitely see things trending up.”

Palencia generates plenty of power from his 5-foot-11, 160-pound frame. But he has been prone to bouts of wildness, as evidenced by his walk rate of 4.2 per nine innings last season for High-A South Bend.

But his control improved as the season progressed and he finished with a 3.94 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 75.1 innings.

Palencia appears to be ready for the challenge of an assignment to Double-A Tennessee.

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