If you are Richard Palacios — congratulations, sir. You are now the ninth-ranked prospect in the Cleveland Guardians system as voted upon by Covering the Corner dot com readers.
You are? Excellent. Please, give me just a moment to show you around. Now, I apologize for the front door here, you’ll just need to give me your hand and ... my apologies. It looks like Trevor in IT didn’t finish setting up your security. He and I shall share words. Let me palm you in.
Okay. Welcome to the Ninth Man Club. We’re working on a better name, and if you think of one you get free ice cream for a week, by the way. Say hello to fellow inductees Aaron Bracho (2021), Bo Naylor (2018), and Evans McTurgeon (1903).
Now, please come with me to the theatre. Take a seat, and we shall show you exactly how and why you earned this illustrious honor.
~ The Academy of Bunting Sciences Presents — Richard Palacios, A Prospect Quest ~
EXT DAWN — GOODYEAR ARIZONA
An ambulance howls through the desert, nailing several stunt jumps before weaving in and out of traffic to nail one last jump, directly onto a hospital helipad. The following narration accompanies.
(VO) DAN CARLIN: What does it really take to make it as the ninth-ranked Cleveland Guardians prospect? The sweat. The grind. The fatigue. Now, take all of those challenges, bundle them up, and throw an injury on top of that. Costs a guy the whole season, doesn’t it? Now, put a global pandemic on top of THAT. What does that do to the mind of the player? How do they respond? THIS ... is HARDCORE PROSPECTS.
Richard Palacios slugs ball after ball in batting practice in front of a layer cake sunrise. One ball strikes a cactus. Another smashes an anthill. A third knocks a frozen drink out of a barista’s hand. Palacios mops his brow and flips his bat over the backstop. It disappears in the noon sun’s glare — how long was he out there??)
(VO) DAN CARLIN: Quote, “THE INJURY STARTED IN THE OFFSEASON GOING INTO THE 2019 SEASON WHEN I STARTED GETTING SHOULDER DISCOMFORT AND IT KEPT GETTING WORSE AND WE TRIED REHABBING IT. THEN WE FOUND OUT MY LABRUM WAS TORN SO I HAD TO GET SURGERY IN MARCH OF 2019. [...] THROWING TOOK THE LONGEST BECAUSE OF THE PROGRESSION TO GETTING BACK TO THROWING SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.” End Quote. Caleb Philips. Guardians Baseball Insider.
And so doesn’t it matter most how a player responds to that kind of adversity? Well in this case — as so often in history we aren’t — we are lucky enough to have access to a primary source. To continue from Palacios, quote, “I GOT ALL OF 2020 TO GET A LITTLE BIT MORE REST.” End quote.
Several highlights from Palacios’s triumphant 2021 season play, accompanied by the Olympics fanfare. CAPTION:
2021 Double-A slashline: .299/.389/.496, 283 PA
2021 Triple-A slashline: .292/.434/.416, 145 PA
(VO) DAN CARLIN: And so what does it mean when a player shows that kind of resilience? In this six-part series we plan to — —
[FILM SUDDENLY ENDS]
We ran out of funds.
The point is, Mr. Palacios: we are absolutely thrilled by your talent at the plate. We aren’t the only ones, either. Jim Ingraham of Baseball America took note in August, praising the consistency of your swing and also noting your versatility. It may not be a widely-known fact, but while your primary position is second base you are also accomplished at all three outfield positions.
We’re just thrilled to have you here in the Ninth Man Club. Please enjoy your brief stay before you rocket on up the rankings, and do enjoy our vast back catalog of zydeco.
Tanner Burns, RHP (Age 23)
2021 (A+): 75.2 IP, 18 GS, 28.9 K%, 9.2 BB%, 3.57 ERA, 4.35 FIP
A second-round pick in 2019 who put up a rock-solid season at High-A in 2021 with above average strikeout totals and a reasonable walk rate. Burns was a workhorse last year.
Petey Halpin, OF (Age 19)
2021 (A): 246 PA, .294/.363/.425, 1 HR, 11 SB, 8.5 BB%, 20.3 K%, 117 wRC+
The 2020 third-round pick made his pro debut in full-season ball in the back half of the 2021 season, where he impressed with a 117 wRC+ despite being one of the youngest players at the level.
Steven Kwan, OF (Age 24)
2021 (AA): 221 PA, .337/.411/.539, 7 HR, 4 SB, 10.0 BB%, 10.4 K%, 159 wRC+
2021 (AAA): 120 PA, .311/.398/.505, 5 HR, 2 SB, 11.7 BB%, 6.7 K%, 144 wRC+
Former fifth-round pick who has emerged as a legitimate hitting prospect after the missed 2020 season. Posted 12 home runs in 2021 after hitting three in his first two professional seasons.
Bryan Lavastida, C (Age 23)
2021 (A+): 198 PA, .303/.399/.467, 5 HR, 14 SB, 13.1 BB%, 15.2 K%, 136 wRC+
2021 (AA): 119 PA, .291/.373/.466, 3 HR, 2 SB, 10.1 BB%, 23.5 K%, 130 wRC+
2021 (AAA): 21 PA, .158/.238/.316, 1 HR, 0 SB, 9.5 BB%, 47.6 K%, 47 wRC+
Transitioned from infielder to catcher in college and has continued to blossom at the position ever since. Fifteenth-round selection in the 2018, hit a career-high nine home runs in 2021.
Angel Martinez, INF (Age 20)
2021 (A): 424 PA, .241/.319/.382, 7 HR, 13 SB, 10.1 BB%, 20.8 K%, 92 wRC+
An advanced switch-hitting middle infielder who has the potential to be the best of Cleveland’s many advanced switch-hitting middle infielders down the road.
Cody Morris, RHP (Age 25)
2021 (AA): 20.0 IP, 5 GS, 36.3 K%, 8.8 BB%, 1.35 ERA, 3.14 FIP
2021 (AAA): 36.2 IP, 9 GS, 36.1 K%, 8.3 BB%, 1.72 ERA, 3.06 FIP
Maybe the most MLB-ready pitcher in the Guardians system. Missed the start of 2021 due to a shoulder injury, but quickly made the jump from Double-A to Triple-A upon his return and looks poised to make his MLB debut early in 2022.
Bo Naylor, C (Age 22)
2021 (AA): 356 PA, .188/.280/.332, 10 HR, 10 SB, 10.4 BB%, 31.5 K%, 69 wRC+
Offense took a step back in 2021, but has earned good marks for his defense and framing behind the plate. One of the youngest players in Double-A last season.
Jhonkensy Noel, 1B/3B (Age 20)
2021 (A): 162 PA, .393/.426/.693, 11 HR, 2 SB, 4.3 BB%, 16.7 K%, 189 wRC+
2021 (A+): 111 PA, .280/.351/.550, 8 HR, 3 SB, 8.1 BB%, 27.9 K%, 135 wRC+
Dominated Single-A as a 20-year-old before getting the bump to High-A and continuing a vendetta against baseballs. Lack of walks could be a concern, but capable of obliterating baseballs.
Jose Tena, SS (Age 20)
2021 (A+): 447 PA, .281/.331/.467, 16 HR, 10 SB, 6.0 BB%, 26.2 K%, 115 wRC+
An under-the-radar middle infield prospect who made his presence widely known when he dominated the 2021 Arizona Fall League despite being one of the youngest players participating.
Who should be the No. 10 Guardians prospect for 2022?
This poll is closed