Scouting Report: RHP, David Palladino

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher David Palladino in the fifth round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Howard Junior College in Texas. Standing 6-foot-8 and a bit of a project given his size, the Yankees have been trying to get the New Jersey native to become more of a pitcher than a thrower and he has shown steady progress through his first two seasons.

Vital Statistics:
Name: David Palladino
Position: Pitcher
DOB: March 15, 1993
Height: 6'8"
Weight: 235
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He debuted with the Staten Island Yankees in 2013, posting a respectable 4.67 ERA given the rawness of his game, and he had an even better showing repeating the New York Penn League level last year, posting a 6-5 mark with a 3.72 ERA.

"It was a good season for me, I learned a lot," he said. "In Extended Spring Training I learned to throw my changeup and different types of grips but more so just [aspects] as a pitcher and a person with the Yankees I've gotten better with.

"Last year I didn't start off too well on Opening Day but it showed me I had to work harder each and everyday to do what I can do best to help the team win. Towards the end of the season though I felt a lot more comfortable on the mound throwing all of my different pitches that I have for strikes and pounding the strike zone earlier in the count rather than being ball, strike, ball, strike, ball, ball."

While the overall numbers have been pretty solid through his young career thus far, he has been plagued with inconsistencies not only from game to game but pitch to pitch and it has been due to his inability to consistently throw strikes. Often times he would fall behind batters in counts so the first step was getting him in line.

"I have to stay on the ball more over my front side," he admitted. "I fall off to the first base side a lot and that was a big thing we were working on last season.

"When I went to Instructs this past year they put a fence on me, right next to me on the left side so I wouldn't be able to fall off. If I fell off I'd go right into the fence. Once I started staying towards the plate it was a lot easier hitting my spots and commanding all of my pitches. I ended up building up the consistency of my arm angle."

Given his rather large size, getting all of the larger moving parts in sync has been a bit of a challenge and it has surely taken some time.

"It's never easy and there a lot of frustrating times where you think 'I should be able to just to pick up on it' and you go into the game where you do something different. I had to get out of my comfort zone."

Getting him more mechanically sound to throw more strikes consistently was just the first step. The next phase was building his confidence in throwing more than just his four-seam fastball and curveball.

"It was more my confidence level actually throwing it," he said of his changeup. "Tim Norton helped me a lot actually making me throw it.

"It started out just in the bullpens. They'd say it was a great pitch but I'd never throw it in a game. How am I going to build the confidence in it to throw it in games if I don't even try it in a game?

"So I'd [start to] throw it once or twice in a game and it was good, but then I'd pull away from it. Then I started throwing right on right changeups and it helped me out with my ground ball ratio. Batters would buckle and hit it straight into the ground."

Expanding his repertoire was not limited to just a changeup he would actually use. Palladino also began throwing more two-seam fastballs and introduced a brand new cutter as well.

"I'm going to be honest with you, there were days I'd throw it more like a slider and had too much of a break," he said of the cutter, "but when I started getting better at it towards the end of the season it was [harder]."

Throwing more new pitches also came with its own set of challenges too. Each new pitch takes time to develop a feel for and then commanding each one better is an entirely new ball of wax.

"I developed more movement on my two-seamer. I've always had movement but I was never able to command it. I was showing my pitches before [in 2013] I'd throw it too. I wasn't keeping the arm motion consistent with each pitch. I'd slow down my arm for my curveball which would slow it down."

Palladino's progress has been more slow and steady than meteoric given the many areas of his game that needed attention but he can feel the difference in his game just two short seasons since his fifth round selection.

"I'd say my game has changed a lot," he opined. "My confidence level, in my first year I was mainly a fastball-curveball guy because that was what worked for me throughout high school and college. I got away from throwing the changeup but that's a very important pitch to throw, especially as a starter.

"[Back then] I would try to overthrow rather than just, not necessarily pitching to contact but just pounding the strike zone. And when I overthrew I started walking people. I'd have a lot of strikeouts but I'd also walk a lot of guys which in the end came back not working out in my favor, walking too many people."

He realizes he still walks a few too many batters and cutting down on the free passes will remain a developmental mantra for the foreseeable future. While he is very pleased with how far his game has come thus far, he still very much acknowledges that his game still has a long way to go.

"Pounding the strike zone consistently on a daily basis," he said of his biggest goal for 2015. "There's a lot more things I'd like to accomplish obviously but how am I going to get the opportunity to pitch if I'm not going out there throwing strikes?

"I have to do that first, that's what it comes down to. I want to be able to go out there day in and day out and be consistent enough to where they have the faith to give me the ball every five days."

Faith in Palladino is growing inside the Yankees organization but more importantly the faith in himself has reached new heights. No longer a mere thrower, he has begun turning himself into an actual pitcher recently.

"I want to be a pitcher, I don't want to be a thrower. I want to learn how to come in and do whatever the Yankees want me to do, but first things first -- I have to lessen my walks. I feel like I can do that.

"With all of my pitches right now I'm confident throwing them in any count but in the beginning of the season it was hard for me to get over that bridge, like in a 2-2 count let's throw a cutter instead of a fastball or a curveball like I'd always do in college.

"I feel like I'm a much better pitcher now than when I first signed but more so mentally than anything because I've learned more about the game and what it takes. I can do much better too, I just need to keep working hard day in and day out to get there. Nothing comes easy in life," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2014

Staten Island

6-5

0

67.2

60

30

58

3.72

2013

Staten Island

3-3

0

54.0

57

26

49

4.67



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Cutter.

Fastball. Though he has monstrous physical size, Palladino isn't exactly a power pitcher. He sits mostly in the 90-92 mph range with both his four-seam fastball and sinking two-seamer, and tops out around 94 mph on occasion. Considering the fact that he hasn't been pitching long with correct mechanics, however, both he and the Yankees feel that there could be some untapped power potential once the muscle memory kicks in with his delivery. He does show good movement with his fastballs too, especially with his two-seamer. The command of his fastballs has trended upward lately but still rates as below average right now.

Other Pitches. The fact that Palladino now throws three secondary pitches is in itself quite the accomplishment. While none of them grade out as even big league average right now, each one possesses a considerable ceiling. He had favored his curveball as his secondary pitch of choice and even though it is the pitch he has thrown the longest it too shows some inconsistencies. When it's going right it shows good late break and depth in the 76-78 mph range. However, there are times it gets quite loopy and will range 72 mph. His brand new cutter shows the same tendencies, sometimes loopier in the 82-85 mph range in almost slider-like fashion, but it has shown some great potential when he snaps off some 86-89 mph true cutters. While the changeup is relatively new it is actually his most consistent pitch. It shows good fade and depth, and routinely averages 82-84 mph. He can also throw it for strikes pretty consistently.

Pitching. For all of his current shortcomings Palladino has actually come a long way in a short period of time. Once more of a grip-and-rip-it kind of guy who relied mostly on four-seam fastballs and curveballs, and having a hard time even throwing those for strikes, he is more cerebral now and has a growing five-pitch repertoire that he can throw for strikes more consistently. He still fights himself on the mound at times, however, reluctant to use some of his newer pitches in certain situations so he can still be a little predictable on the mound. While the confidence has grown to throw anything at any time, he still has more room to get better in that regard. Given his enormous 6-foot-8 stature, keeping up on his mechanics and refining his pick-off move to first base will always be aspects of his game that need to be refined, as will be commanding his pitches.

Projection. Palladino was a project from the moment he was drafted and will continue to be one for the time being but it shouldn't detract from the fact that his game has really developed well in a rather short period of time, and that there is still a considerable ceiling to his game. Until he throws harder though his ceiling is relegated more towards a middle to back-end big league starting pitcher, and getting more consistent throwing strikes and further limiting the walks will absolutely be necessary for him to tap that kind of potential. There are not too many big league comparisons given his size, lack of plus velocity, and spotty command, but a Jon Rauch-like ceiling but in a starting capacity could be doable if things break right.

ETA. N/A. Palladino has paid his dues in the short-season leagues and needs to be tested in the long-season leagues. He is a good bet to open up in low-A Charleston this coming season and given the many aspects of his game that still need refining it's a good bet he remains there all season.


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