No Indians draft pick got off to a faster start than second baseman Richie Palacios, who hit the ground running following his selection in the third round out of Towson.
The 21-year-old Palacios zoomed to low Class A Lake County after a 20-game stop at short-season Mahoning Valley, where he hit .411/.477/.589 with two home runs, 11 walks and 12 strikeouts. He led the New York-Penn League in average, on-base percentage and slugging.
The lefthanded batter has been a quick learner while playing both middle infield positions. Palacios collected a hit in all but one NYPL game and graduated from the circuit with a 17-game hitting streak.
Palacios’ debut almost seemed like a continuation of his junior year at Towson, where he hit .316/.463/.542 with a career-high eight home runs.
“He has really good bat-to-ball ability,” scouting director Scott Barnsby said. “He controls the strike zone, and he’s got quick hands.”
Palacios comes from an impressive baseball gene pool. His father Richard reached Triple-A in the Tigers’ organization, his uncle Rey played with the Royals, and his brother Josh was a fourth-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2016.
Barnsby said coming from a baseball family can only help Palacios in his transition to pro ball.
“He has an understanding of the game. He’s got instincts, which certainly show up with Richie,” Barnbsby said. “It helps, but it starts with the player. It starts with the tools and the ability on the field.”
Palacios played shortstop at Towson, but he has played almost exclusively second base at Mahoning Valley.
“We can see him at shortstop or second base. He’s athletic enough to move around,” Barnsby said. “He’s a plus runner, and he’s shown instincts, with his brother Josh and the whole family having some history in baseball. We’re excited to get Richie.”
** When the Indians traded their top prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia, to the Padres in the deal for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, the next catcher in the pipeline is Eric Haase. He hit 14 home runs while splitting the catching duties with Mejia at Triple-A Columbus.