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Edwin Encarnación coaches top prospects at batting practice, Chad Dallas and Damiano Palmegiani get hype, and more

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Photo credit:© Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
With Spring Training comes some buzz around prospects.
On Tuesday morning, some interesting clips were released by Keegan Matheson (full credit to him for the clips). All three of the videos are under a minute long, but show three interesting Blue Jays infield prospects. Let’s look at each of them and another interesting note.

Damiano Palmegiani

First up was Damiano Palmegiani, who showed off some raw power in batting practice. It’s of note that Matheson compares him to what Davis Schneider did during the 2023 season, raising his stock and potentially getting a summer call-up.
Of course, since the start of the 2022 season, which was Palmegiani’s first full season in the organization, his 47 home runs in 1064 plate appearances are the second most, behind Orelvis Martinez’s 62 home runs.
Last season between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo, Palmegiani slashed .255/.366/.476 with 23 home runs (second in the organization), along with a 13.1 BB% and a 27.2 K%, with the strikeout rate increasing from 21.4% the season prior.
The most fascinating part of Matheson’s tweet is that some in the organization are noticing the defensive development at third base. It’s an aspect of his game which has been a flaw to some, but he works hard on a daily basis to improve his abilities, and it’s nice to see the recognition for it.

Leo Jimenez

The 22-year-old shortstop has bounced up and down rankings since 2021, but has seemingly developed some power and has always had a great hit tool. Most importantly, Matheson notes that he will be able to play shortstop in the big leagues, something I completely agree with from watching him the past two seasons.
Between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Jimenez slashed .268/.367/.396 with six home runs in 431 plate appearances, along with a 9.7 BB% and a 16.7 K%. His tenure in Buffalo wasn’t great, slashing .190/.338/.238 with no homers in 77 plate appearances, but there’s a lot to like about Jimenez.
Of note is the fact that Jimenez is in the final season of option years, but that may actually not be the case. Option years are weird and confusing, but if a player uses all three options years (which 2024 would be the third year) and has played less than five full seasons in the minors and majors, they may be entitled to a fourth option year, as Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer on Twitter) points out.
There’s a similar case with the recently designated for assignment and traded Otto López. It was reported by Andrew Baggarly that despite Fangraphs noting he’s out of option years, López does in fact have an extra option year due to this clause. It’s a weird one, but that may be the case for Jimenez as well.

Orelvis Martinez

Is a case of “don’t give up on young prospects without context”. In 2022 as a 20-year-old, Martinez slashed just .203/.286/.446 with 30 home runs (second most in Double-A) in 492 plate appearances with New Hampshire for a 96 wRC+. Some saw this as a sign he was a non-prospect, especially with a 28.5 K% and an 8.5 BB%, but were ignoring just how few 20-year-olds spend a full season in Double-A.
The shortstop/third baseman started the season at the same level, and after a rough start, ended up slashing .226/.339/.485 with 17 home runs in just 292 plate appearances. The more encouraging aspect of this is that his BB% rose from 8.1% to 14% in just a season, giving him a well-earned promotion to Triple-A.
With Buffalo, he slashed .263/.340/.507 with 11 home runs in 246 plate appearances. The K% once again rose to 26.8%, but the BB% stayed rather high at 10.6% and his .263 batting average was his best since Single-A in 2021.
Matheson reports that he has filled in his frame and that if he can gain consistency, watch out. The video itself ends with a home run to centre field, showcasing that insane raw power that Martinez has.
It’s a long-shot for Martinez to make the roster out of Spring Training, but if he can hit like he did in 2023, there’s a chance we’ll see him with the Blue Jays at some point in 2024. Martinez has also settled in at second base, but can play shortstop and third as well, giving him useful versatility.

Chad Dallas has impressed Buck Martinez

Aggregated by our very own Damon (@Varsh0AA on Twitter), the long-time Blue Jays pundit was asked by Kevin Barker of Blair and Barker if there was a starting pitching prospect that could help the Jays’ championship aspirations, with Martinez responding with Chad Dallas.
There’s been a lot of helium surrounding Chad Dallas, especially with his 2023 season. It was a hard start to his professional career in 2022, posting a 4.60 ERA and a 5.50 FIP in 88 innings pitched with the High-A Vancouver Canadians, along with a 21.2 K% and a 12.6 BB%.
However, 2023 was a turning point for Dallas, especially since he added a cutter which he could throw to left-handed batters. Starting his season in High-A, Dallas posted a 2.03 ERA and a 2.88 FIP in 26.2 innings pitched, with a crazy 36.3 K% and an 11.8 BB%. Of course, he earned a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire.
In the upper-minors, the 23-year-old had a 4.10 ERA and a 4.41 FIP in 96.2 innings pitched, along with a 25.8 K% and an 8.9 BB%. The K% was a significant drop, which is expected to happen facing more advanced hitters and a much larger sample size, but the increased command and control was the most encouraging sign of Dallas’ 2023 season.
On top of that, Dallas’ 123.1 innings pitched in the minors was the most this season, surpassing Zach Thompson’s 119.2 innings pitched. There were only five Blue Jays pitchers in the minors with 100 innings or more pitched, so the increased workload is certainly noticeable.
Will Dallas pitch for the 2024 Blue Jays? Well, with a start in Triple-A looking likely, if he does well there, it’s very well possible. Dallas has back-end-of-the-rotation potential all over him, and if he performs, it’ll only increase the Blue Jays depth at starting pitching.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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