Arizona Diamondbacks 29th ranked prospect Daniel Palka, a 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft, has displayed plenty of power in his time in pro ball, smashing 60 homers in 315 games played. In 2015, he spent his entire season with Hi-A Visalia and hit .280 with 29 round-trippers (4th in the League) and 90 RBI (5th) in the hitter-friendly California League. While the power numbers are great, Palka added another trick to his arsenal with the Rawhide: The steal. After swiping nine bags in 2014, he nearly tripled that total in 2015 with 24 successful stolen bases while he was caught seven times.
While Palka may not be a speedster, his base-running abilities were on full display on Monday afternoon in Glendale. After leadoff batter Roemon Fields (Toronto Blue Jays) was caught stealing in the first, the Salt River Rafters proceeded to swipe six bags off of Dodgers catching prospect Kyle Farmer with Tyler Eppler (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Michael Johnson (Chicago White Sox) being on the mound for all six, splitting the damage evenly.
Palka swiped third for his stolen base in the sixth, but how he ended up at second in the first place was what stood out. With the shortstop on the second base side of the bag, Palka singled right between where the shortstop and second baseman were positioned. Both fielders traveled into the outfield for the return throw, leaving second unmanned. Palka saw the opportunity to take an extra base and took it.
Add to this his approach in his at-bat in the top of the ninth, and there is even more to like. After Astros reliever Chris Cotton struck out the first two batters of the inning and got ahead of Palka 0-2, the left-hander fouled a couple pitches off, took some pitches and hit a grounder to short. On what should have been a routine grounder, Palka hustled and beat the throw in a game that his team led 5-0 at that point. The awareness on the bases and the hustle he displayed are two things that can’t necessarily be taught, making Palka’s performance all the more impressive.
Following a 3-for-5 afternoon, the D-Backs first baseman is batting .395 and has recorded at least one hit in each of his last ten games and at least one RBI in seven of his last eight. Even with these statistics, Palka has been left off of the Fall Stars roster.
Palka has been impressive in 2015, but MLB Pipeline’s ratings for the 24-year-old suggest that this may just be a hot streak. On the 20-80 scale, he ranks at 40 for hitting, 55 in terms of power and 45 for running, arm strength and overall rating. That said, the latest rankings were done right after the trade deadline. On August 1st Palka was batting .277, and from August 2nd on he went on to hit 11 of his 29 home runs and tally 6 of his 24 steals, so perhaps when the new rankings come out before next season they’ll have Palka rated a little higher and perhaps jump up a spot or two on the Arizona Diamondbacks overall rankings.
What I saw from Palka today impressed the heck out of me, and with Palka already getting some time in the outfield in 2015 they seem to like what they have seen from him, giving him some time at all three outfield positions.
Combine his pop with the friendly confines of Chase Field, and Daniel Palka could be a big addition to an already potent Arizona lineup come 2017.