Many eyes are on the Texas Rangers’ #6 ranked prospect this spring. Will 24-year-old Joe Palumbo make his MLB debut in 2019?
Spring training is the opportune time to prospect watch. It gives fans a glimpse at some of the organization’s most promising young talents. It’s also a rare time in which prospects matchup against major leaguers. One Texas Rangers’ prospect who’s drawing a lot of attention already this spring… left-hander Joe Palumbo.
How can you not root for the Rangers’ #6 prospect? Formerly a 30th round draft pick, Palumbo gives hope to all ballplayers who aren’t the creme of the crop among their draft class. Standing at 6’1”, 168 LBs, he also gives hope to all those who aren’t built like a “traditional” big league pitcher. Lastly, he’s fighting hard to make his way back from an untimely Tommy John surgery in 2017.
Palumbo returned to action towards the end of the 2018 season. He tossed 45.1 innings across Rookie League, Single-A and Double-A. His two starts at Double-A resulted in a 1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and .182 opponent’s batting average.
The consensus is the Texas Rangers like his ability but feel he needs more minor league innings before earning a call-up. There’s a good chance he would’ve already made his MLB debut had elbow surgery not intervened. Instead, he’ll need to work off his 45.1 minor league innings from a season ago.
Palumbo is known for his knee-buckling curveball. He’s also improved his fastball velocity, now sitting in the low-90 mph range and topping out at 96 mph.
The organization is grooming him to be a starting pitcher. As part of the grooming process, he’ll need to round out his pitch arsenal by further developing his changeup.
Major League starting pitchers need at least three pitches to keep hitters on their toes. Palumbo will primarily be a fastball/breaking ball pitcher, though pulling the occasional string on right-handed hitters will prove to be an important weapon.
Joe Palumbo is not far from a major league debut. If all goes according to plan in the minors, he’ll take the mound wearing a Texas Rangers uniform sometime this season. The latest call-up will be in September. However, he’s not too far down the list of starters being asked to make the leap because of an injury to a big leaguer.