Blue Jays prospect Damiano Palmegiani talks about Vauxhall, his junior college playing days, and the 2023 season
1 year ago
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Blue Jays prospect Damiano Palmegiani has a unique Canadian-inspired backstory.
Although he was born in South America, Palmegiani’s early baseball career began in Surrey, British Columbia with programs such as Cloverdale Minor Baseball. The righty batter would eventually take his talents to southern Alberta and joined the Vauxhall Jets at their academy to finish his high school playing days.
“When I was in grade nine, baseball was already a priority for me and something I wanted to do through high school, college and beyond. One of the Vauxhall coaches, Joel Blake, and his dad Tim had been coaching me in British Columbia (Cloverdale Minor Baseball) and offered this (Vauxhall) as an option. When I was given the low down of the program and looking at the alumni and where they ended up, it was a no-brainer and sealed the deal.”
Vauxhall, Alberta, deemed the Potato Capital of the West, sits roughly 20 minutes north of Taber, Alberta and two and a half hours southeast of Calgary.
“I used to have to negotiate with one of my teammates who had a car to drive us down to Taber so we could go to McDonald’s or one of the other restaurants Vauxhall didn’t have,” Palmegiani said.
Prospect Damiano Palmegiani speaks to Blue Jays Nation about his time in Vauxhall, being drafted twice by the Jays, and his goals for the 2023 season…
Palmegiani faced a tough decision in his grade 12 year, as he had a commitment to California State University, Northridge for the 2019 season but was also drafted by the Blue Jays in the 35th round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
“I was fortunate enough that during my time at Vauxhall, I had developed well under the guidance of the staff and my teammates and because of that, I was able to get some draft looks. I was ultimately a late-round pick by the Jays. It was a tough decision at the moment, as your heart wants to go one way but you have to assess the situation a little more and take a step back. I will be honest and say I was not ready at that time (to sign), I believe the physical tools were there but mentally I was still a bit young, I hadn’t experienced too much failure at that time and wasn’t as polished compared to a few years down the road like I am today.”
Palmegiani’s freshman year at CSUN saw him appear in 31 games (12 starts) and post a .157/.254/.216 slash line with two RBI and a .470 OPS. The following year was washed out because of COVID-19 but in 2021, the infielder/outfielder at the time made the move to the College of Southern Nevada to play with the Coyotes in the NJCAA. “I already knew about Southern Nevada as Vauxhall takes an annual trip to Las Vegas each year to play some of the local high school teams, and one of the big parts is working out at their facility while interacting with the coaches as well. Their program was one that I always had in the back of my head.”
With the Coyotes, Palmegiani posted a team-high .389 average while also leading the team in terms of home runs (26), RBI (81), SLG (.867), OPS (1.388), and walks (36), earning NJCAA All-American First-Team honours as well as the Region 18 Player of the Year Award in the Scenic West Athletic Conference.
“In JUCO, you are eligible for both years and that was something that drew me towards their program. I had made that decision (to transfer) during my sophomore year at CSUN and the transition to the program was easy for me because we already had that relationship. I believe it is one of the premier Junior College programs certainly in the western United States, and the winning standard and the higher expectations that Coach Nick Garritano installs brings out the best in every player there. I have a lot of high praise for the College of Southern Nevada”
Palmegiani gets drafted by the Blue Jays for a second time…
The Blue Jays would once again draft Palmegiani, this time in the 14th round of the 2021 MLB Draft. Following the selection, he finished the year in Rookie Ball with the Florida Complex League Blue Jays, defensively at third base. At the plate, the power-hitting third baseman drove in nine runs while also adding two home runs, going 13 for 39 in his first foray into professional baseball.
Speaking on the transition from JUCO to his first season with the Blue Jays, Palmegiani spoke about the physical vs. mental aspects of his approach in the batter’s box, “The first thing I noticed was that physicality can’t be your everything, and slight swing deficiencies and deficiencies in your approach cannot be made up by being stronger. It can help, but at this level, being dialled in and consistent with your mechanics and always being ready will go a long way. I think everybody who shows up here regardless of where you came from or what program you started in, that’s the first thing everybody notices.”
Following that stint, Palmegiani split the 2022 season between the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays and High-A Vancouver, earning the promotion to the Canadians on June 21st. Collectively on the year, the righty-batter posted a .239 batting average with 24 home runs, 83 RBI, and 54 walks to a .815 OPS and a 128 wRC+ split between both levels.
Defensively, he took most of his reps at third base but also mixed in some time at first and as the designated hitter. Since being drafted, he owns a .931 fielding percentage through 711.0 innings at their base and a .974 fielding percentage at first base through 184.1 innings of work.
“Playing baseball every single day is a lot different than playing a lot of baseball in a singular school season or summer league season. I learned that with so many at-bats over the full year, you can’t hang your head on every at-bat because there are so many to be had. I was doing that early into the season, putting a lot of weight on how specific games went and focusing on an at-bat basis, and I had to take a step back and look ahead and not get caught up in the little things.”
Looking ahead to the 2023 season…
Ranked as the Blue Jays’ #27 prospect by MLB Pipeline at the end of the 2022 season, Palmegiani is looking forward to this year and spoke on some of the different things he worked on this past offseason to prepare, “This offseason was big, and I was able to use a lot of data and video to analyze the analytics side of what I did well and what I struggled with last year. Mechanically, I worked on getting some length early and through the zone to help my batting average in regards to balls in play and working on repetition and consistency while making things as difficult as I can during practices to challenge myself, comparing to real game scenarios. I also worked on my fitness and being in the gym to help with my athleticism and strength which will help keep me healthy through the full season.”
The infielder also spoke on what he worked on this offseason from a mental aspect as well, “I put a key focus on being present, and telling myself to not think about the next at-bat or the last at-bat, as I can get caught up in those sort of things. This is a journey and I want to enjoy it. I want to give myself the biggest chance to succeed both mentally and physically.”
With Spring Training right around the corner, all eyes will be on the Blue Jays and their prospects as they start to ramp up their workload in Dunedin over the next two months. That being said, Palmegiani is definitely one player to keep an eye on as the soon-to-be 23-year-old continues to work his way up the Minor League ladder in the Blue Jays system.
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