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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Two

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, April 19th to April 24th?

Syndication: Daytona Beach News-Journal
Keyshawn Askew
Nigel Cook/News-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Daniel Palka

Week: 6 G, 23 AB, .263/.391/.790, 5 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K, 0/0 SB (Triple-A)

2022 Season: 13 G, 42 AB, .286/.388/.738, 12 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 7 BB, 10 K, 0/0 SB, .259 BABIP (Double-A)

A South Carolina native, Daniel Palka attended Greer High School in Greer, South Carolina, where he was a five-year letterwinner, varsity captain, and an All-Area, All-State, and All-America athlete. After hitting .470 with 14 home runs at the plate and posting a 1.80 ERA on the mound, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted him in the 19th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. With a commitment to Georgia Tech, he elected to attend college rather than go pro. In his three years there, Palka hit a combined .314/.397/.581 in 189 games, hitting 41 home runs, stealing 15 bases, and walking 69 times to 181 strikeouts. He was selected in the draft once again as a junior, this time by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 3rd round of the 2013 MLB Draft and signed for $550,000.

After two years with the Diamondbacks, he was traded to Minnesota Twins on November 10, 2015, in exchange for Chris Herrmann. He hit well in his new organization, particularly in Double-A, and was added to Minnesota’s 40-man roster after the season. Despite hitting well in 2017 in Triple-A, the Twins did not call him up to the majors, and on November 3, 2017, he was claimed off of waivers by the Chicago White Sox. He made the South Siders called him up to the majors in late April and ended up hitting .240/.294/.484 in 124 games, finishing fifth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. He began 2018 in a colossal funk, going a 0-32 before logging his first hit of the season. He did not last long on the White Sox’s major league roster and was sent down to Triple-A for the rest of the season.

Palka was designated for assignment by the White Sox on November 21, 2019 and outrighted to Triple-A a few days later. With no minor league season in 2020, the slugger left the organization to sign with the Samsung Lions of the KBO. In 51 games for them, Palka hit .209/.272/.367 with 8 home runs. He became a free agent following the season and signed with the Washington Nationals, spending the entire season in Triple-A. On December 13, 2021, he signed a minor league contract with the Mets.

Keyshawn Askew

Week: 1 G (0 GS), 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (Single-A)

2022 Season: 3 G (2 GS), 11.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER (1.64 ERA), 3 BB, 14 K, .250 BABIP (Single-A)

A Georgia native, Keyshawn Askew attended McEachern High School, where he lettered three times, and then went on to attend Clemson University. In 2019, his freshman year, the southpaw posted a 4.40 ERA in 45.0 innings, allowing 46 hits, walking 15, and striking out 36. The 20-year-old seemed to be on his way to having something an improved season in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic cut it short. In 12.2 total innings, he posted a 3.55 ERA, allowing 12 hits, walking 11, and striking out 12. Askew returned to the Tigers in 2021 and pitching primarily as Clemson’s Sunday starter, posted a 5.84 ERA in 57.0 innings, allowing 68 hits, walking 11, and striking out 69.

The Mets selected him in the 10th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and the two sides agreed to a $125,000 signing bonus, below the MLB-recommended slot value of $147,000. The Mets sent the left-hander to the FCL Mets for the remainder of the 2021 season, where he appeared in 4 games, allowing 1 run over the course of 9.0 innings, giving up 3 hits, walking 4, and striking out 14.

Askew’s unorthodox pitching mechanics have been key to much of the success that he has had on the mound. Tall and lean, the 6’4”, 190-pound left-hander throws from a very low three-quarters, almost sidearm arm slot. Combined with his high leg kick, he hides the ball extremely well, with the only good look hitters get of the ball before he whips it at them with a slingy crossfire delivery is during his long arm action in the back.

His fastball hovers around 90 MPH, ranging from 87 MPH to 92 MPH. He throws a four-seam version and a sinker, both maintaining similar characteristics in terms of velocity and spin rate, but the sinker averaging a few inches more vertical and horizontal break, averaging 20 to 33 inches of vertical break and 12 to 25 inches of horizontal break as opposed to the 23 to 29 inches of vertical break and 3 to 9 inches of horizontal on his four-seam fastball.

He complements his fastball with a slider that sits in the mid-70s to low-80s that averages roughly 2300 RPM of spin and features 34 to 49 inches of vertical break and 1 to 16 inches of horizontal break. He can throw the pitch for strikes and get swings-and-misses, maintaining roughly a 40% Called Strike+Wiff Percentage through his first few appearances in 2022. He commands the pitch well and does not have major platoon splits, backdooring it against right-handed hitters and throwing it away to lefties.

Rounding out his arsenal is a changeup which is still developing. Given the nature of changeups, and how different variations can be more or less effective depending on velocity differential, spin rate, and horizontal and vertical movement, we need to see more of it before making any definitive statements. Given Askew’s stuff as it plays now, the changeup and how it progresses may be what gives the southpaw the ability to develop into a starter in the upper minor leagues or if he stays primarily a two-pitch pitcher, which would make him much more suited for relief roles.

Players of the Week 2022

Week One (April 5-April 17): Francisco Alvarez/Jose Butto