D-backs' Palka helps spark offense in Fall League
Club's No. 29 prospect drives in pair of runs in Salt River victory
The Arizona heat is never going to get to Daniel Palka.
Palka, the No. 29 prospect in the D-backs' organization according to MLB Pipeline, is thriving in his first trip to the Arizona Fall League. The South Carolina native went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and sacrifice fly in Salt River's 4-1 victory over Surprise on Friday, and he said he's coping with the weather just fine.
"The humidity will definitely get to you more than the dry heat," said Palka, who played his college ball at Georgia Tech. "I'm definitely on the East coast side. In Florida and south Georgia and South Carolina, it will get pretty hot. Once it hits 100 degrees and it's 100 percent humidity, there's nothing like it."
Palka, who turned 24 years old on Wednesday, is coming off a productive season for Class A Advanced Visalia. Palka, an outfielder and first baseman, batted .280 for Visalia and finished fourth in the California League in home runs (29) and fifth in RBIs (90), and he's hitting .333 so far in the Arizona Fall League.
Palka's season numbers -- a .280 average, .352 on-base percentage and .532 slugging mark -- are eerily similar to his Minor League career line (.274/.353/.504) to this point. And while he's pleased with the way he's played, Palka said he'd like to cut down on strikeouts after whiffing 164 times in 129 games.
"There's definitely a lot of room for improvement in multiple aspects of my game. Even after a good season," he said. "I'm not really looking to walk more, but the less you strike out, the walks will go up and the hits will go up. I just want to give myself a better chance to get hits instead of just flailing at the first pitch that's somewhere around the zone. And defensively too, I'm working in the outfield."
Palka, a third-round selection in the 2013 MLB Draft, may be poised to move up to Double-A next season, and the Arizona Fall League has provided him his first glimpse of upper-level pitching. There haven't been any surprises, but Palka has noticed that he's seeing a lot more talent on the mound.
"It's a lot better," he said of the pitching. "But at the same time, I've made adjustments with our hitting guys here and they've been working out well. I don't really get too fazed by the level of competition."
Palka played in a career-high 129 games this year, and he said he took a three-week break in between the end of his regular season and the beginning of the AFL campaign.
The youngster has usually shut his season down for good by this point of the year, and he said he had to think hard about the last time he had played on his birthday.
"I was trying to think of it. I don't think so," he said of playing on his birthday. "I got that day off, so I still haven't played on my birthday. That three-week break was good. I'm definitely not exhausted, but I could see how the pitchers would be if they have a lot of innings. I'm just glad to be out here playing."