Advanced middle infielder Richard Palacios is our No. 17 Cleveland Indians prospect after he soared through three levels of the Tribe system in 2018.
A shortstop out of Towson University, Palacios was a third round pick by the Indians in the 2018 MLB draft. He debuted in the Arizona Rookie League but didn’t stay there long after putting up an astronomical .438/.591/.875 slashline in his first five games, which earned him a quick promotion to Low-A Mahoning Valley.
Palacios didn’t skip a beat in Low-A, hitting an incredibly impressive .411/.477/.589 over the course of 20 games while walking (11) almost as much as he struck out (12).
The Tribe brass continued to challenge Palacios and promoted him to full-season Single-A Lake County, where he still hit a solid .300/.317/.425 over his final 20 games of the season, with a short disabled list stint mixed in.
Palacios is the younger brother of Blue Jays prospect Joshua Palacios, who was a fourth round pick in 2016. He was known for being difficult to strike out in college, walking 56 times his junior season and whiffing just 16 times.
Standing 5-foot-11, Palacios possesses a well-above average hit tool, plus speed and excellent baseball IQ. While he traditionally played shortstop, the Indians primarily played him at second base this past season. He is a high floor player with the potential to be a consistent hitter at the top level if he continues to rise to the challenges that are presented to him.
If the Tribe brass continues to be aggressive with him, Palacios could begin the 2019 season in High-A Lynchburg and be well on his way to the fast track to the big leagues. He has the skills, the bloodline (besides brother, his father and uncle also were drafted) and has already proven himself in the lower levels.
WHO SHOULD BE THE NO. 18 PROSPECT FOR 2019?
Raynel Delgado, 3B (Age 18)
2018 (R): 204 PA, .306/.409/.382, 1 HR, 10 SB, 14.7 BB%, 21.6 K%, 133 wRC+
2018 sixth round pick the Indians paid $664,400 over slot to sign. Delgado held his own in his professional debut, putting up strong numbers and showing great patience at the plate in the AZL.
Eric Haase, C (Age 26)
2018 (AAA): 477 PA, .236/.288/.443, 20 HR, 3 SB, 6.5 BB%, 30.0 K%, 102 wRC+
Had some difficulty adjusting to his first full season at Triple-A but still managed to hit 20 home runs for the third year in a row. Was named the top defensive player in the Indians system by MLB Pipeline after throwing out 48.5 percent of basestealers.
Aaron Civale, RHP (Age 23)
2018 (AA): 21 GS, 106.1 IP, 17.5 K%, 4.7 BB%, 3.89 ERA, 3.98 FIP
Slowed by injury in his 2018 Double-A debut that saw his strikeout rate drop, Civale still showed the impeccable control that has allowed him to quickly advance through the Tribe system since being drafted in the third round in 2016.
Eli Morgan, RHP (Age 22)
2018 (A): 8 GS, 44.1 IP, 32.9 K%, 4.7 BB%, 1.83 ERA, 2.22 FIP
2018 (A+): 19 GS, 99.0 IP, 24.0 K%, 6.2 BB%, 3.91 ERA, 3.75 FIP
Gonzaga alum drafted in eighth round of 2017 doesn’t have elite velocity or size, but makes up for it with stellar command and the best change-up in the Tribe system, which helps spike his strikeout rate.
Gabrial Rodriguez (Age 16)
2018: did not play
Top Indians international signing of 2018 out of Venezuela, signed for $2.2 million. Standing 6-foot-2, he was the sixth highest-rated international prospect by MLB Pipeline. Should skip DSL and debut in AZL in 2019.
Will Benson, OF (Age 20)
2018 (A): 506 PA, .180/.324/.370, 22 HR, 12 SB, 16.2 BB%, 30.0 K%, 102 wRC+
In first taste of full-season ball, the 2016 first round pick posted an elite walk-rate while dropping his strikeout rate and blasted 22 home runs. Batting average suffered due to horrifically unlucky .218 BABIP but all other signs were positive.
Carlos Vargas, RHP (Age 19)
2018 (R): 9 GS, 34.1 IP, 26.6 K%, 15.6 BB%, 3.93 ERA, 4.54 FIP
Signed in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic, Vargas was already hitting 100 mph in his professional debut last season for the AZL Indians. Many feel he could be the 2019 version of Luis Oviedo with his breakout potential.
Who should be the No. 18 Indians prospect?
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