Blue Jays Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Trent Palmer

MiLB.com photo

His season didn’t get underway until June, and he was limited to 16 starts, but a pair of seven inning no-hitters and a second half in which he was all but unhittable have landed Trent Palmer, the Blue Jays 3rd round pick in 2020, the MiLB PioY Award from this corner.

The 6’1/230 Palmer is not the prototypical long and lean type Toronto prefers with its starting pitching prospects. But he repeats his clean delivery well, can dial his fastball up to 97 (he sits 92-94), and has a wipeout slider to go along with a change and curve he can throw for strikes.

And speaking of strikes, Palmer threw a lot of them this year, fanning 83 in 63 innings. That would lead one to believe that along with his fastball/slider combo, Palmer is adept at missing bats. But weak contact is his game – his FB is a bowling ball of a pitch, and his SL, which one evaluator calls a “sweepy pitch with late drop,” is probably his best pitch. The pair allowed him to post a 50% ground ball rate with Dunedin this year. Palmer moves the ball around the strike zone well, has some arm side run on the fastball, and then there’s that slider….

Palmer did have his control issues earlier in the season, walking 26 hitters in his first 24 innings. But he started to command his arsenal better come August, and the results were obvious – two no-hitters, 43Ks in 34 IP, and a .134 opponents’ batting average over the season’s final seven weeks.

Reports suggest that Palmer’s change up is the pitch that could determine whether he’s a starter or reliever long term. The pitch is already graded as average, and if he can throw it for strikes consistently, Palmer could wind up in a big league rotation one day.

Palmer was in competition with several other Blue Jays pitching prospects for this title. Zach Logue showed a penchant for missing bats at AA and AAA, Maximo Castillo won 11 games for New Hampshire, and Naswell Paulino, Sem Robberse, and Luis Quiñones showed some promise in starting roles. But it’s hard to ignore Palmer’s two no-hitters in less than a month.

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