Name: Jaylen Palmer
Weight: 195 lbs.
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, 22nd Round (Holy Cross High School)
Canarsie native Jaylen Palmer attended Holy Cross High School over in Flushing, about 15 minutes over from Citi Field. His first few years in high school were relatively unremarkable, but a massive growth spurt changed all of that. Between his sophomore and junior years, he developed from a scrawny 5’5”, 150-pound undersized middle infielder into a 6’3”, 195-pound athlete. That year, he hit .308/.439/.371 in 28 games for the Holy Cross Knights, putting himself on the map and gaining the attention of major league scouts. He was even better in his senior year, hitting .286/.511/.476 in 24 games.
With their twenty-second selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, the Mets selected Palmer, signing him for $200,000. The 17-year-old was assigned to the GCL Mets for the remainder of the 2018 season and hit .310/.394/.414 in 25 games, slugging a single home run and stealing five bases. He was promoted to the Kingsport Mets for the 2019 season, and as the fourth-youngest hitters in the Appalachian League hit .260/.344/.413 in 62 games, launching seven homers, stealing one base, and walking 31 times to 108 strikeouts. After missing the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Palmer returned to the field in 2021 for the St. Lucie Mets. Appearing in 66 games, the 20-year-old hit .276/.378/.386 with 2 home runs, 23 stolen bases in 28 attempts, and a 39:81 walk:strikeout ratio. In August, he was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones, his hometown team, where he spent the remainder of the season. In 39 games in Coney Island, Palmer hit .189/.314/.336 with 4 home runs, 7 stolen bases in 8 attempts, and 25 walks to 65 strikeouts. All in all, the 20-year-old hit .244/.354/.368 in 105 games over the course of the season, with 6 home runs, 30 stolen bases in 36 attempts, and a 64:146 walk:strikeout ratio.
At the plate, Palmer holds his hands high, swinging with a big leg kick. He has a long, smooth swing with natural upward loft that flows when his upper and lower halves are in sync, but often lunges and finds himself in front of the ball, sapping his power and causing him to either swing over pitches completely or turn them over weakly into the ground. Key to his continued development will be his pitch recognition, as recognizing what pitch is coming will give him more time to stay back on pitches, giving him a better chance to make contact and allow the natural power caused by his bat speed and torque to play up more in games. Power in indeed one of Palmer’s carrying attributes, an average-to-above-average tool with the potential to increase with future physical growth and continuing mechanical refinements to his swing. He averaged a 91.4 exit velocity in 2021 during his time with St. Lucie, maxing at 109.8, and increases in his 8.9 launch angle would certainly result in more balls clearing the wall.
Speed is his other carrying attribute. The tall, leggy Palmer is an average-to-above-average runner and has learned to turn that into a weapon on the basepaths. His 23 stolen bases in 2021 were seventh in the Low-A Southeast, but only one of those players in front of him stole more bases in as many or fewer games. He shows good instincts out of the box and hustles on the basepaths, allowing him to take the extra base.
Initially as a shortstop, Palmer began transitioning to third base in 2019 and the outfield in 2021. In the infield, he shows good reaction times, range, and agility. He has soft hands and a strong, accurate, above-average arm. In the outfield, he has the range to play centerfield thanks to his natural athleticism and speed. As he becomes more comfortable in the outfield, he will learn to see the ball off the bat better and learn better routes to the ball, rather than relying on his speed and afterburners to close in on the ball late.