Grapefruit Notes: Josh Palacios is turning heads, Robbie Ray makes an adjustment, and more!

Cam Lewis
3 years ago
Today is an off-day so we don’t have a game to follow along with on the MLB At Bat app, so let’s recap some worthwhile and interesting stuff from over the weekend.

Things worth mentioning…

  • Josh Palacios has been among the biggest bright spots at Blue Jays camp so far this spring. The team’s fourth-round pick from the 2016 draft hasn’t ever been a big-name prospect, but the team added him to the 40-man roster ahead of this year’s Rule 5 Draft, suggesting the organization believes there’s a role for him in the future. So far this spring, Palacios has gone 5-for-11 with a homer, a triple, and a pair of doubles. Given the fact the Blue Jays have a loaded outfield, it’ll be a huge uphill battle for Palacios to crack the team, but still, it’s encouraging nonetheless. It’s also interesting to hear how beneficial the Alternate Training Site was to his development last summer…
“The [alternate training] site was one of the best things that could have happened to my career. It was a risk-free environment,” Palacios said on Saturday. “There weren’t any hard numbers, there were no league leaders, there was no batting average, there was no worrying about getting caught stealing or making an error. It was just free and development-based.”
  • Another encouraging performance from the weekend came from Robbie Ray, who made his second start of the spring on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Ray had to toss 31 pitches to grind through his first inning of work but then he made an in-game adjustment and started to breeze. After making his adjustment, Ray struck out the next three batters he faced on 16 pitches, 14 of which were strikes, and then came out for a three-up-three down inning. All told, Ray struck out six of the final seven batters he faced. He also reached as high as 98 miles-per-hour on the gun.
  • Tanner Roark’s Diesel Engine seems to be starting up slowly. Roark, who had a nightmare year in 2020 with a 6.80 ERA, made his first start of spring training and tossed two scoreless frames against the Phillies. The worrying thing here, though, is that his velocity was sitting at 89.1 miles-per-hour on Saturday, below his 2020 average of 90.6 mph and his 2019 average of 92.1 mph. Roark said last year that a big part of his struggles came down to the fact there wasn’t a real spring training, just a make-shift summer camp, ahead of the 60-game sprint that was the season. Let’s hope he can get ramped up otherwise Roark will be serving batting practice again this season.
  • Vlad Jr. also made his first appearance at third base of the spring on Saturday and only saw one ball hit his way. I don’t think the plan is for Vlad to be used anywhere near full-time at third, as it seems to be Cavan Biggio’s spot right now, but being able to put him there gives the Blue Jays more flexibility when it comes to the designated hitter spot and giving other players a day off. I wonder if we’ll see Vlad play third when a more fielding-independent-three-true-outcomes pitcher, like Ray, for example, is on the mound. Regardless, he doesn’t need to be great, he just needs to be good enough to offer the team flexibility.

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