Scouting Yankees Prospect #34:Alexander Palma

The Yankees signed outfielder Alexander Palma back in 2012 out of Venezuela for a reported $800,000. Known as a hit-first player when he first signed as a 16-year old, he's certainly upheld that reputation in his first couple of seasons while also rounding out the other areas of his game.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Alexander Palma
Position: Outfield
DOB: October 18, 1995
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He hit a very solid .287 with just 15 strikeouts in 37 Dominican Summer League games in his debut season in 2013 and followed it up by hitting .305 with four home runs and nine stolen bases in the Gulf Coast League last year.

"I feel proud of the season I had because no matter if was good times or bad times I kept my head up and I get better in every aspect of the game," Palma said through the help of a translator.

While he's done well, there were some mixed feelings about Palma when he first signed. Baseball insiders were a little concerned about his conditioning both short-term and long-term. Some were not exactly sure how that aspect of his body would translate to his defensive game either. What nearly everyone did agree on, however, was that he could, should, and really would hit.

"He's worked diligently to get himself into playing shape," Yankees Coordinator of International Development Pat McMahon said prior to the 2014 season. "He has outstanding game awareness and he's working hard to impact the baseball. He's got an idea at the plate how to hit, he's become a very good defender out in the outfield, and he's an excellent base runner for his size."

No more prophetic word were uttered in regards to Palma as he not only became a consistent offensive force in his first taste of playing in the United States last year but also rounding out the areas of his game that were once considered weaknesses.

"I've worked a lot on my defense and I feel like I've gotten way better," Palma said. "I feel comfortable out there now and I think it shows."

"He can be a good right fielder," GCL Yankees1 manager Travis Chapman added. "He's got an above average arm out in right field. Even for a bigger guy he runs real well -- he was nine for nine in stolen bases [last] year.

"He moves well, he gets good jumps, and he's in the right position every time backing up, moving with hitters, moving with counts. He's a very intelligent outfielder. [I don't have any concerns with him defensively], not at all."

He has kept up on his conditioning well too in the early going so there hasn't been any real issues with his development thus far. In fact, he has even improved on what was already his best tool; hitting.

"I felt like I could recognize pitches better than I did the previous year and it showed in the numbers," Palma said about his hitting. "I've learned a lot since I first signed but the biggest thing I want to continue learning going forward is what pitches to hit and making better contact with the barrel [of the bat]."

Not a huge physical specimen by any means, standing just 6-foot-0 and weighing 200 pounds, the biggest question mark offensively for Palma is more about his long-term power potential than his ability to be a consistent hitter overall. Palma though believes that aspect of his game is beginning to emerge too.

"Offensively, obviously grinding out ABs and getting better at recognizing what a pitcher is trying to do to me, and what adjustments I need to make during the game are all things I need to work on," he admitted.

"I feel better about my power but I think it's going to come more as I make better quality of contact. Making better contact with the barrel will help with that."

That's good news for a young hitter like Palma who has an advanced feel for hitting. In fact, the recently turned 19-year old continues to impress all onlookers with his ability to barrel the baseball and it is a big reason why many in the baseball community are keeping a close eye on his development going forward.

"Alex, for a young guy, can really barrel any pitch," Chapman said. "He recognizes pitches well, he hits hard line drives, [and] has gap to gap power which I fully anticipate developing into more home run type power as he gets older and progresses through the leagues."














2014 GCL Yankees1 .305 213 13 4 45 22 9 3 15 .318 .451
2013 DSL Yankees2 .287 143 6 2 16 15 4 7 15 .325 .371

Batting and Power. With just 30 strikeouts in his first 356 career at-bats, Palma is about as advanced a hitter as there is at his age. His knowledge of the strike zone is second to none and he rarely ever swings at pitches out of the zone. He is also extremely adept at using the whole field and taking whatever the pitchers give him, and he employs a quick, short, and compact stroke. All of it spells being a consistent hitter for average and one of the better ones around. While the plate discipline is superb and the patience is above average, he hasn't yet learned to draw a whole lot of walks but everything in his offensive game suggests it should be a big aspect of his game as he continues to mature. Power-wise he won't ever be considered a slugger but he does have at least average long-term home run potential, perhaps even a tick above average as he further masters his control of the strike zone.

Base Running and Speed. Palma is not fast by any means, grading out as a tick below average overall as a matter of fact, but what he lacks in natural foot speed he more than makes up for with better than average athleticism for a guy his size and good base running instincts. His impact running station to station will be greater than in stealing actual bases, especially he gets older, but he can be at least a moderate threat swiping bags.

Defense. Palma's defensive game is akin to his running game; it's good, not great. His best defensive tool is his above average arm strength and surprisingly accurate throws for somebody so young, enough to be an above average defender in the corner spots arm-wise. But while he gets solid reads on balls coming off of the bat too, his range is merely average now and usually that's an aspect of the game that only depreciates as one gets older. He has the chops to be an average defender overall but one who can make the occasional above average play in either left or right field.

Projection. Palma certainly won't be a liability either on the base paths or in the outfield defensively. In fact, there will be some moments where he shines in both areas but his real long-term value is mostly tied into what really could blossom into one of the more consistent bats around. Possessing a real knack for owning the strike zone and barreling the baseball, Palma was born to hit. An ideal potential number three hitter in a big league lineup, just how far his power potential comes along will eventually dictate how close he comes to tapping that kind of potential. He has some legitimate Howie Kendrick-like offensive qualities and like Kendrick he will be known more for his offensive consistency than his power potential.

ETA. N/A. Palma has the kind of innate bat control that could allow him to be a quick riser through the minor leagues but also has the questionable power potential that could cause some hesitation promoting him to the big leagues once he gets to the higher minor league levels, especially since he is a corner outfielder. For now he's ready to tackle the low-A level where he should be one of the more consistent performers for the Charleston RiverDogs in 2015.

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