MLB Pipeline Pitching Lab: Carson Palmquist

June 13th, 2024

PORTLAND, Maine – To the average fan, what pops first about Carson Palmquist are the 2024 stats. The Rockies’ No. 14 prospect leads Double-A qualifiers with a 35.2 percent strikeout rate through 10 starts for Hartford. He’s posted a 2.96 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 24 walks in 48 2/3 innings over that span.

But when fans see the 2022 third-rounder’s funk on the mound, the pieces of his delivery, mound positioning and overall arsenal make the complete picture all the clearer.

During the Yard Goats’ road trip to Portland last month, MLB Pipeline caught up with Palmquist to break down what makes his early success and overall profile so interesting in the Colorado system:


When the 6-foot-3 left-hander first headed to the University of Miami, he says he had more of a three-quarters delivery, but it dropped lower and lower to the point where it’s bordering on a sidearm slingshot.

“[It] made me able to throw a little harder, got my body into it a little more when I was younger,” he said. “Now that I’m stronger, it’s just natural to me.”

The crossfire allows Palmquist to hide the ball a little extra longer, creating more deception. If the delivery calls to mind that of Braves southpaw and seven-time All-Star Chris Sale, well you’re not alone in that evaluation. Palmquist himself says he looks at Sale’s success as an inspiration, noting in particular that he’d love to steal the 35-year-old’s slider if he could.

“Watching his mechanics, the way he throws and seeing how hitters are so off-balance,” Palmquist said, “that’s what I want.”


Any MiLB.TV fans might recognize that Hartford has one of the best camera placements in the Minor Leagues. The view comes from almost direct center field, allowing for a straight-on look at how pitches carry, dip, sweep and dive near the plate. But watch a Palmquist outing in Dunkin’ Park, and you’ll notice something else – he sets up on the extreme third-base side of the mound.

“I was just comfortable being on that side,” Palmquist said. “If I was on the left side, it felt like I was coming from so far behind the batter as to where I already am behind the left-handed batter. It was just uncomfortable. I couldn’t rotate. I couldn’t pull my body over enough.”

But lefties weren’t the only concern. His placement on the bump can make Palmquist more of a menace against righties too. According to the hurler, setting up on the third-base side, combined with his sidearm delivery, gives him more of the plate to work with against opposite-side hitters, and he can locate the ball better to the inside of the zone against them, leading to weaker contact.

Through his nine starts, Palmquist has limited righties to a .218/.287/.355 slash line with 41 strikeouts over 122 plate appearances. He’s still more of a weapon against lefties, who have just a .237 slugging percentage off him, but the splits aren’t as stark as they otherwise could have been.


Palmquist is pretty dependent on his fastball, throwing it 51 percent of the time during this year’s spin in Double-A according to Synergy Sports. The heater doesn’t come with a ton of velocity, averaging 91.2 mph and topping out at 94, but it’s still an effective pitch because of Palmquist’s arm positioning. Starting from such a low slot, he can create a flat angle on the fastball and buzz four-seamers past batters from both sides.

“It’s not like he’s soft tossing it up there,” said Hartford manager Bobby Meacham. “That 93 plays at the top of the zone with a little bit of carry. That’s helpful if he can command it, and what he’s showing us now is that he can command that pitch.”

Per Synergy, Palmquist has generated whiffs on 30 percent of the swings he’s gotten against the fastball so far in 2024. That number jumps to 39 percent against lefties. The average Major League whiff rate on a four-seamer this season is 21.7 percent. Overall, hitters from both sides are hitting just .213 with a .314 slugging percentage against the southpaw’s numero uno.

Focusing on and attacking the top of the zone has been part of the former Hurricane’s transition to the pros, and it’s tough to argue with the results.

“That’s something the Rockies opened my eyes to,” Palmquist said. “I didn’t know about it in college. I was just hitting the corners in college, keeping the ball down. But ever since here, they’ve shown me the numbers, and they [say] ‘Your stuff plays up here.’”


Thrown 29 percent of the time, Palmquist’s breaking ball can defy typical categorization. On one hand, it’s thrown in the mid-70s, around the typical velocity band of a traditional curveball. On the other, it has too much horizontal break to be called a deuce and often gets tagged as a slider for its sweep.

The hurler goes back and forth on what he calls it, even in the middle of the same interview.

“It’s just a slurve,” he said. “Depending on the conversation, I’ll call it a curveball, or I’ll call it a slider. It’s not really one or the other.”

No matter the actual name, it has been effective early on with a 47 percent whiff rate and a .189 average-against. Palmquist often lands the slurve low and to the gloveside, meaning it needs to be a chase pitch away from lefties and backfooted to righties, and his current command could be challenged against more zone-aware hitters at Triple-A and the Majors, leading some evaluators to think Palmquist's best future role is in the bullpen.


To be clear, Jordan Beck is an outfielder. But after what he shared with his fellow 2022 pick Palmquist, he may have a future as a pitching coach.

Last season, it was Beck who shared a social-media post with Palmquist showing off a cutter grip that the left-hander has utilized to create a fourth pitch.

“We played one catch one day in the outfield messing around, and I was throwing it and it was working,” Palmquist said. “Bullpens would come along, and I’d mess around and throw it. Offseason came along, and I [knew] I needed to add this to my thing. Started working on it, and it took off from there.”

As you’d expect, the cutter essentially splits the velocity difference between Palmquist’s four-seamer and his slurve. The pitch sits around 81-83 mph. It’s used primarily to steal strikes in early counts, but its presence alone gives hitters more to consider in each at-bat.

“I’m looking to throw it with the same intent as my fastball but have it cut a little bit,” Palmquist said. “My fastball runs so much to the side. Anything that stays straight or cuts is going to play off of it.”


Most of Palmquist’s arsenal works against batters from both sides, but his 79-82 mph cambio is reserved almost exclusively for righties. Of Palmquist’s 73 changeups registered by Synergy, 63 have been thrown against opposite-side hitters. It’s another pitch that might be better served setting up the fastball and slurve than being a dominant pitch on its own; Palmquist has only thrown the changeup for a ball 49 percent of the time against righties, and while there is some sink there, it can be hittable when thrown in the zone.

By his own admission, Palmquist relies more on the change of speeds here than the movement profile, but if it sets up more K’s with his other pitches, then that’s worth something on its own too.

“It’s a show-me [pitch] to righties, keep them off-balance,” he said. “Instead of diving for cutters and sliders on the inside of the plate, they have something they know can keep them honest on the other half other than the fastball.”