Week: 5 G, 14 AB, .357/.438/1.071, 5 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 1 BB, 8 K, 0/1 SB (High-A)
2022 Season: 29 G, 86 AB, .174/.304/.314, 15 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 11 BB, 46 K, 6/7 SB, .324 BABIP (High-A)
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 and knowing which pitches he will be able to do damage with 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 and speed are his carrying attributes, but until his hit tool improves, his power will seemingly remain only partially tapped during in-game situations.
Palmer does have a good sense of the strike zone and does draw a fair share of walks. While on base, he is a good runner and has a cumulative 78% success rate on stolen bases, stealing 48 of 54 bags since becoming a professional. His speed has also allowed him to play a solid center field, after being drafted and originally playing as an infielder. He still needs more time in the outfield to read the ball better and take better routes- he transitioned in 2021- but has the raw athleticism and a strong enough arm to play an acceptable center field at the present, with the potential to play at a much higher defensive level.
Week: 2 G (2 GS), 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K (Single-A)
Season: 8 G (8 GS), 35.0 IP, 23 H, 10 R, 7 ER (1.80 ERA), 11 BB, 37 K, .256 BABIP (Single-A)
Born in Wellesley, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, Mike Vasil attended Boston College High School, an all-male, Jesuit prep school. Over the course of his career there, the right-hander was named to various honorary teams, and received various accolades from local media, posting a cumulative 1.06 ERA in 191 innings pitched with 217 strikeouts. He was considered a prep player of interest by reputable national scouting and evaluation organizations coming into the 2018 MLB Draft, but an arm issue that arose early in his senior season prompted Vasil to announce that he was going to follow through on his commitment to the University of Virginia and would not sign with a professional team if drafted.
His tenure at the University of Virginia was not disastrous by any means, but he certainly did not live up to expectations. In his freshman year in 2019, he posted a 5.93 ERA in 57.2 innings for the Calvaliers, allowing 68 hits, walking 22, and striking out 40. Prior to the NCAA cancelling the 2020 season, he posted a 2.45 ERA in 22.0 innings over four starts, allowing 21 hits, walking 10, and striking out 23. Serving as Virginia’s Saturday starter in 2021, his junior year, he posted a 4.52 ERA in 81.2 innings over 16 starts and a relief appearance, allowing 101 hits, walking 18, and striking out 75. All in all, he posted a cumulative 4.74 ERA in 161.1 innings, allowing 190 hits, walking 50, and striking out 136.
After the completion of the season, he was drafted by the Mets in the 8th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, the 232nd player selected. He signed for $181,200, exactly the MLB-recommended slot value, and was assigned to the FCL Mets for the remainder of the season. Appearing in three games and pitching 7.0 innings, he allowed one run on three hits while walking none and striking out ten.
The 6’5”, 240-pound right-hander throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a simple, clean delivery using a short arm action through the back. He uses his lower half well and is able to maintain his release point, as his mechanics feature very little unnecessary movement. As such, his control is impeccable, though he is not always able to command his pitches. In college, Vasil sometimes nibbles too much, trying to avoid the strike zone and batters making contact rather than going after them, but has been more aggressive since turning pro, as Mets coaches have given him more confidence in his stuff.
After being drafted, the Mets made some minor alterations to his mechanics to increase his extension, but made major alterations to his pitch selection and in-game sequencing. As a high schooler, he mainly utilized his four-seam fastball and curveball; the coaching staff at the University of Virginia had him mainly throw a two-seam fastball. Since being drafted, the Mets have had Vasil rely on his four-seam fastball and a newly introduced cutter, augmenting the pitches with his curveball and changeup. So far this season, the right-hander has thrown his four-seam fastball 34% of the time, followed by his cutter 24% of the time, his curveball 19% of the time, his changeup 13% of the time, and his sinker 10% of the time.
His four-seam fastball ranges from 92 MPH to 96 MPH, averaging 94 MPH this season. The pitch has averaged 2423 RPM, which is slightly above-average for a four-seam fastball. The pitch is most effective when thrown up in the zone, as the effect of spin gives it the illusion of rising. His two-seam fastball ranges from 90 MPH to 94 MPH, averaging 94 MPH this season, with an average spin rate of 2445 RPM. The pitch features between 12-15 inches of horizontal movement and has primarily been thrown up and in this season like his four-seam fastball. His cutter has averaged 89 MPH this season, sitting between 86 MPH and 92 MPH. With 1-9 inches of horizontal movement, the pitch has been most effective this season thrown down and away.
Vasil’s curveball has averaged 81 MPH this season, ranging from 79 MPH to 84 MPH. It features between 24-55 inches of vertical break and 2-13 inches of horizontal movement and has been primarily thrown down and away in the strike zone or under it. His changeup has averaged 86 MPH this season, ranging from 84 MPH to 87 MPH. It features between 21-34 inches of vertical break and 11-19 inches of horizontal movement and generally has been thrown inside to hitters.
Players of the Week 2022
Week One (April 5-April 17): Francisco Alvarez/Jose Butto
Week Two (April 19-April 24): Daniel Palka/Keyshawn Askew
Week Three (April 26-May 1): Shervyen Newton/Alec Kisena
Week Four (May 3-May 8): Alex Ramirez/David Peterson
Week Five: (May 10-May 15): Brett Baty/Jose Chacin