Tigers Prospect Profile #44: Wilsen Palacios

Wilsen Palacios got the chance in 2010 to put his past behind him, and he did quite well at proving he could excel on his own merits, shining for the GCL Tigers, as well as in Lakeland and Connecticut in limited action. But could Palacios's role shift?

Wilsen Palacios
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-3
Weight: 180
Born: 12/15/1989
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
A native Venezuelan, the Tigers inked Palacios on July 4, 2006, as one of their priority guys during the international signing period that year. As usual with 16-year old signings, Palacios did not make his professional debut until the 2007 season.

In that debut season, the 17-year old Palacios tossed 29 1/3 innings, allowing 37 hits and 12 walks, while striking out 17 and posting an ERA of 4.91. The Tigers returned Palacios to the VSL for his second season, and he dominated with a 1.52 ERA in 41 1/3 innings. The hard throwing right-hander allowed just 39 hits and 15 walks, while fanning 36.

Though the Tigers never stated whether Palacios was slated to come stateside for the 2009 season, it is reasonable to suspect he would have at least been considered had it not been for a 50-game suspension that kept him off the field most of the season. After his suspension was lifted, Palacios was transferred to the Dominican Summer League to face a little tougher competition and take advantage of the slightly longer season to get some innings.

The decision was much easier following a great stretch in the DSL in 2009, and the Tigers brought him to the US for his first taste of the stiff competition in the States. Palacios started his season in the GCL where he made eleven starts spanning 61 1/3 innings, allowing just 52 hits and 11 walks. Palacios yielded only one home run in the GCL and whiffed 67.

The Tigers gave him a taste of the New York-Penn League late in the year where he amassed 10 1/3 innings in just two relief appearances, allowing only four hits and striking out nine without a walk, while posting a 0.00 ERA.

Scouting Report
Palacios has a great foundation for a right-handed pitcher. He has broad shoulders and a strong mid-section and legs that let him generate force with his entire body. There is some effort to his delivery, and he comes from a very high arm angle; almost completely over the top.

From that high arm angle, Palacios generates excellent angle on his 90-91 mph fastball that tops out at 93 when he needs a little extra. He pounds the strike zone with his fastball and he will show a little sink from time to time. Though he is consistently in the strike zone, he needs to refine his ability to locate the ball.

Behind his fastball, Palacios throws a traditional overhand curveball and a splitter for a change-up. His curveball will show as an average pitch at times, but it will require additional tightening and consistency to work at that level at all times. His splitter changes the look hitters get and could be a very effective secondary pitch.

Palacios has good makeup and a good understanding of the game. He fields his position well, getting off the mound quickly and knowing what to do with the ball when he fields it.

Given his power approach and the effort in his delivery, many scouts like him better in the bullpen, though he has the ability to hold his stuff deep into games, which should give him a chance to start in the short term.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

R

GCL Tigers

4-4

2.79

11

11

0

58

11

61.1/font>

.221

SS-A

Connecticut

0-0

0.00

2

0

0

9

0

10.1/font>

.114

A+

Lakeland

0-0

3.86

1

0

0

0

2

2.1/font>

.143


Health Record
Though there is effort in his delivery, the strength in the middle of Palacios' body helps alleviate some concerns over his injury risk. His 2009 suspension was as a result of a positive test for Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid that is often present in the human body in trace amounts. Those within the organization that have spoken about the suspension believe in his makeup and think this was an isolated incident.

The Future
Palacios is lightly penciled into the starting rotation in West Michigan for the 2011 season, though he will have to earn that assignment during spring training. He has the mental approach and physical ability to handle the push, and he will just need to perform in the spring to cement his full-season debut in April.

The Tigers will give Palacios a chance to start in 2011 and possibly beyond that, but at some point, the temptation to push him through the organization at a rapid pace may become too great, and a move to the bullpen could facilitate that progress. As a starter, he has the ceiling of a #3 or #4 starter. As a reliever, he could be a very good setup man that attacks hitters at all times.

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