No. 18 prospect Palmegiani powers up, showcases versatility in fall ball

November 10th, 2023

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- With the way has been playing in 2023, don’t be surprised if there are talks about Toronto’s No. 18 prospect becoming a candidate to make the Major League roster once Spring Training starts.

The Blue Jays have extended a qualifying offer to third baseman Matt Chapman, but there is expected to be a lucrative market for the four-time Gold Glove Award winner. If Chapman elects free agency, don’t be surprised if Pamelgiani surfaces as a candidate to fill the vacant spot at the hot corner.

The 23-year-old had a stellar season in the Minor Leagues between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo with a combined slash line of .255/.364/.478. His 23 home runs and 93 RBIs were tied for second-most amongst all of the Blue Jays affiliates in their respective categories.

That momentum carried into the Arizona Fall League. Palmegiani went 7-for-15 in his first four games and has remained consistent since. In the last game of the regular season, he slugged a two-run homer that traveled a projected 397 feet onto the left-field berm in the Saguaros' 6-4 win over the Desert Dogs.

“I think this is just a great opportunity to get better as a player every day,” said Palmegiani after homering in back-to-back games. “Whatever the Major League team needs, they need guys to be ready to go. So if there's ever a chance for me to contribute, I want to make sure I'm ready. I see this as an opportunity to just prepare myself in the best way possible for whatever.”

Palmegiani was born in Venezuela but moved to the Canadian province of British Columbia at age 5. He grew up a Blue Jays fan, emulating his game after fellow Canadian and former Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie. The older Palmegiani got, the more seriously he took baseball.

Entering his sophomore year, he transferred to play at the prestigious Vauxhall Academy of Baseball in Alberta. After graduating, he took the community college route at the College of Southern Nevada, the same program that produced Bryce Harper.

Palmegiani made one last stop before turning pro. In 2021, he played in the inaugural season of the MLB Draft League, which features Draft-eligible players aiming to improve their stock ahead of the annual Draft in July. After a strong showing with the State College Spikes, the Blue Jays selected him in the 14th round of the 2021 Draft.

“The Draft League is awesome,” he said. “The travel of it, the schedule, everything prepares you well for what the Minor Leagues are going to be like. And at the time, I didn't really understand the nuts and bolts of it all. And now being in Minor League Baseball, I see how well they set us up and how much it helped me and the guys around me.”

Palmegiani achieved a lifelong dream when he represented Canada in the World Baseball Classic, and will check off another goal when he makes his Major League debut with the Blue Jays. While only the club knows when that will happen, his versatility is another aspect that strengthens his MLB quest.

The 23-year-old, who primarily plays third base, has played first in 29 games in the Minors and sprinkled in four games there this fall.

On Thursday night, Palmegiani played in the outfield for the first time in his career, showing his willingness to adapt to the position.

In the fourth inning, Bryan Ramos skied a fly ball in his direction. Initially, the novice left fielder made his way to the warning track, but quickly realized the ball wasn’t hit as deep as he projected. He sprinted to shallow left and came up with the running catch.

“I've just been kind of showcasing my versatility a little bit,” Palmegiani said. “I can move a lot better sometimes than a corner guy. So [the Blue Jays] have known that since the start of my career, and we're just looking for the right time to start that utility role.”

The regular season may be done, but the ride isn’t over for the Saguaros. They will meet the winner of Friday night’s play-in game at Camelback Ranch between the Javelinas and the Scorpions.

Palmegiani praised his Surprise teammates for pushing each other to get better throughout the season. Winning an AFL championship would be the perfect ending for the Canadian’s strong 2023.

“Honestly, it would mean everything,” he said. “Some would say [the AFL] is a showcase, but we saw it as a winning opportunity. Every day we were fighting to get wins, not to put up stats or anything like that. We're fighting to get wins and it would all come together nicely.”