Daniel Palencia is Getting the Rapid Promotion to Triple-A Iowa, Which Suggests a Lot of Confidence
This is a bit of a deep-in-the-weeds move for those who aren’t prospect hounds, but it could have a big league impact before to long. At least that’s how the tea leaves read.
Cubs pitching prospect Daniel Palencia, acquired a couple years ago in the Andrew Chafin trade, was outstanding last year at High-A South Bend, pairing a triple-digit fastball with an excellent slider and a solid curveball. His outings were all on the short side, and, when paired with his smaller size, the questions about whether he’d be best utilized as a reliever were fairly prevalent. Still, it seemed the Cubs were committed to giving him a long look as a starter even as he reached Double-A to open this season.
But he struggled in that role and at that level, lasting just five brief outings (5.87 ERA, so-so peripherals) before he was sent to the Development List. While on the list, he worked in Arizona – but it wasn’t just a general program to improve a pitch shape or add velocity. He was being formally converted into a reliever.
Apparently it went very well, very quickly, because this is already happening:
Palencia, 23, has the kind of stuff that you can easily see exploding in relief. The fact that the Cubs are promoting Palencia from Double-A to Triple-A for his first relief appearance tells you that they think it’s going to take well.
In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that this is the Cubs saying they hope he can contribute at the big league level soon. Keep in mind, Palencia is Rule 5 eligible after this season, and if he shows anything at all at Iowa, his is the kind of arm that gets plucked.
So if he does look capable at Iowa over a handful of appearances, and if you’re going to have to put him on the 40-man roster at some point anyway … you can see where I’m going.
None of this is to say that Palencia will DEFINITELY join the Cubs’ bullpen this year, much less in the next month or whatever. It is only to say that, because of the profile and because he’s getting this immediate deployment at Triple-A Iowa, it’s fair to conclude the Cubs are hoping he can arrive this year. And they may have some internal reasonable basis to believe it is possible.