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Photo Credit: (Photo courtesy of Kristin Basnett)

Prospect Profile: Trent Palmer

The third-rounder from the 2020 draft is making some waves this season.

Trent Palmer is quickly becoming one of the most successful prospects in the Blue Jays minor league system. In just two seasons, he pitched at three different levels and had success at each of them.

Background:

The success didn’t just randomly show up at the pro level. The Minnesotan pitched three seasons at Jacksonville University. He posted a 3.52 ERA in 133 innings pitched. Palmer has always had a high K/9, as it sat at 10.6 in college, while his BB/9 was a solid 3.6.

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Even in summer league action, Palmer put up some impressive numbers. In 49 innings pitched in two seasons, Palmer has an impressive 1.84 ERA, as well as a 10.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. The pedigree was obviously there.

So when it was the Jays turn to pick in the third round of the 2020 draft and Palmer was still on the board, the Jays selected the 6’1 righty 77th overall pick. According to MLB, the slot value for the 77th overall pick was $805,600 in 2020, yet Palmer was signed to a bonus of $847,500.

Palmer’s start:

As per usual, there was no 2020 minor league season, meaning that Palmer didn’t pitch his first professional game until the 2021 season.

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With the Low A Dunedin Blue Jays, Palmer posted a 3.00 ERA and 3.50 FIP in 63 innings pitched. His K/9 was an impressive 11.86, but his BB/9 of 6 was on the high side. Despite that, he still did a tremendous job in his first full professional season as he didn’t allow a home run and pitched two seven inning no hitters.

So although walks were an issue, there was a lot to like about the righty’s season.

Palmer in 2022:

That brings us to the current season, where Trent Palmer has continued to build off of his successful pro debut.

The 23-year-old started his season with High A Vancouver Canadians and did fantastic in his 23.2 innings pitched. While his ERA sat at 4.18 and his FIP at 4.56, his K/9 increased to an outstanding 13.69, while his BB/9 plummeted to 3.04.

It wasn’t too long before he was promoted to Double A, where he was challenged by more advanced hitters. In his 31.2 innings pitched with the Fisher Cats, he hit the ground running with a 3.69 (nice) ERA and 4.40 FIP. Palmers K/9 dropped to 9.38 while his BB/9 increased to 4.26, but this is to be expected as he essentially skipped High A.

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As he continues to pitch in Double A, expect him to improve these numbers as we’ve seen from his previous track record. The 23-year-old is currently on the 7-day IL.

What the scouts say:

Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline have Palmer situated in the mid-20s of Blue Jays prospects. However, I’m under the assumption that this will increase when the mid season report comes out. Here are his grades:

Pitch MLB Pipeline Fangraphs (present value/future value)
Fastball 50 40/45
Curveball 45 50/50
Slider 50 N/A
Changeup 55 60/60
Control 45 30/40
Overall 40 35+

MLB Pipeline notes that Palmer is like a “bulldog”. The best definition of this term can be found at Rouge Baseball Performance, where they note:

“A bulldog is someone that never allows negativity to cloud their mind, they are always in attack mode and locked in on the task at hand. When the opposing team scores or their team makes an error, the emotions do not keep a bulldog from being ready for the next play. They understand they will fail and fail often, but know how to overcome that failure quickly.”

Mentality is one half of the battle for a pitcher, so for Palmer to quickly brush things off that don’t go his way (such as this “balk” to score a run), is a good sign for his development.

I have a few questions!:

Luckily enough, I was able to ask Trent a few questions. Big thanks to him for answering them!

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Brennan: “Towards the end of last season, we spoke about you BB/9 of 6. However, you’ve cut down the walks, even with a huge jump in the minors. What has changed?”

Trent: “I think the biggest change was just becoming confident in the stuff I have and trusting it in the zone early to get weak contact. I can also pitch it out of the zone for strikeouts.”

Brennan: “According to MLB Pipeline, you have an incredibly deep arsenal. Which one is your favourite pitch to use?”

Trent: “I think my changeup is my favourite pitch to use, due to the makeup of the pitch. I also have the ability to throw it to both sides of the plate.

Brennan: “What do you think needs to be done to take your game to the next step?”

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Trent: “I think the biggest thing I need to do is continue to work on my command of my pitches. Another goal is to become more consistent with my slider movement.”

Brennan: “You’ve been given the bulldog title by quite a few people, what are your thoughts on it?”

Trent: “I think the bulldog quote is something that is nice to have because people see you as someone who wants the ball, which is something I always do personally!”

Thanks again to Trent for answering those questions.

When will he arrive in Toronto:

MLB Pipeline gives him an estimated time of arrival of 2024, which lines up with where he is currently. I see him ending this season with the Fisher Cats and taking the step to Buffalo next season.

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Furthermore, while he’s doing great as a starter and will likely continue to pitch as one for the foreseeable future, both Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline note that there’s bullpen potential in the future.

In my opinion, Palmer has the ceiling of a middle to back end of the rotation starter, but his floor is an MLB reliever. With all that being said, expect him to rise up the Jays’ prospect list in the mid-season report, and expect to see him in two or three years.

Palmer is currently on the 7-day IL. Hopefully he returns soon!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Big thanks to Trent Palmer, a very good pitcher and an even better guy. In the next Prospect Profile, we’ll be looking at Addison Barger!


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