Palacios was signed by the Detroit Tigers in January 2006, and promptly made his professional debut with the VSL Tigers in June of that year. As a 16-year old in his first pro games, Palacios managed a solid .266/.375/.354 line in 64 games. Despite his youth, Luis finished his debut season ranking third in the VSL in walks (40), eighth in runs (43), and tenth in stolen bases (17).
Repeating the VSL as a 17-year old in 2007, Palacios turned in an impressive campaign that included a .307/.390/.405 triple-slash line in 69 games; a number of games that ranked him fourth in the circuit. Palacios' name covered league leader boards throughout the 2007 campaign, as he ranked first in at-bats (257), second in doubles (16), third in hits (79), and tied for sixth in runs (44). In the season's first month, Palacios hit a sparkling .393 for the Tigers; taking home TigsTown. VSL Player of the Month award.
The Tigers brought Palacios stateside for his GCL debut in 2008, starting the season as an 18-year old; the same as many high school draft picks. Though he hit only .245 for the season, Palacios did tie for eighth in the Gulf Coast League in doubles with 13. His extra-base power showed in his US debut, as he posted a solid .150 ISO in a tough hitter's environment.
Palacios is a well rounded player with a wealth of skills that should give him a good chance to continue advancing through the system. He has played third base, second base, and shortstop extensively in his pro career, and while he has the defensive chops for all three, he profiles best at the keystone. He has slightly above-average range at second, that translates to average range at shortstop. His arm is average, and has enough strength for strong throws on the pivot. Palacios' accuracy can go awry at times, but most of those problems stem from a need to refine his footwork.
Offensively, Luis has good contact ability and a solid idea of the strike zone. He can recognize pitches to a degree, but is much more apt to be aggressive on balls around the zone; looking to use the entire field to his advantage. He has some pull power that allows him to turn on pitches down the left field line and into the left-center gap, but his power is limited and unlikely to develop much more. As an average runner once underway, he should be able to hit the ball enough to generate some doubles as he continues up the ladder.
Palacios is considered a heady player with good instincts for the game and a strong work ethic. He positions himself well, learns quickly, and plays with 100% effort at all times. A permanent move to second base may be best for his development, but the organization may opt to utilize his versatility in the near term.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% R
Palacios has played plenty of games in his first three pro seasons, and has yet to be hampered by injuries, or show any signs of fatigue later in the summer.
Luis was far from impressive in his stateside debut, but he will enter the 2009 season at only 19-years old; which gives him plenty of time to continue growing and learning at the plate. With collegiate second basemen like Michael Gosse and Alden Carrithers looking to move from the short-season leagues to full-season ball as well, Palacios may initially be in line for a return trip to the GCL or to Low-A Oneonta.
There is a lot of development remaining for Palacios, and the Tigers are likely to be patient with him as he continues to refine his game to adjust to the better competition in the States. Look for Palacios to show significant strides next season, and start garnering attention as a prospect worth keeping an eye on in the lower parts of the system.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.