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Inside The Rangers' Prospect Watch: No. 7 Joe Palumbo

Inside The Rangers on SI continues our Prospect Watch preseason rankings with our #7 prospect Joe Palumbo.
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7. Joe Palumbo | LHP

Born: October 26, 1994
Bats: L Throws: L
Height: 6'1" Weight: 168
Drafted: 2013, 30th round. St. John the Baptist HS (West Islip, NY)
Team: Nashville Sounds (AAA)
Other Team Rankings: Baseball America (7), MLB Pipeline (6)

Career Statistics

Player Bio

Palumbo was drafted out of high school in Upstate New York in 2013 in the 30th round. He was signed by Rangers scout Takeshi Sakurayama. Palumbo has had an up-and-down career in the minors, working through Tommy John surgery, while also sliding in and out of the rotation and the bullpen. He made his MLB debut in 2019, starting 3 games for the Rangers in September. 


Palumbo has a devastating curveball that is a massive problem for left-handed hitters. Not only is it nasty against lefties, it even gives right-handed hitters fits. According to Fangraphs, Palumbo threw his curveball nearly 25 percent of the time in 16.2 innings in the majors, creating a value of -2.18 (the more negative you are in value on pitches, per Fangraphs, the better).

Having that type of pitch in your arsenal that flummoxes hitters from both sides of the plate will carry Palumbo throughout his career. Fortunately for him though, Palumbo has a fastball that is a tough pitch to handle too. He's not a big guy at just 6'1", 168 lbs, but he has a fastball that reaches up to 96 mph and gets on hitters quicker than they expect in the box. Additionally, Palumbo understands the importance of using his changeup, which continues to get better and should be an average third offering, giving him a strong three-pitch mix.

Right now, the best part about Palumbo is that he's a pitcher, not a thrower. Seems simple enough, but not many guys truly understand the difference. In today's game, you need to know how to attack hitters and set them up throughout counts, rather than blowing fastballs by them. That's what will help Palumbo find success in the majors, whether that's as a mid-rotation starter or an arm in the bullpen.


Really, it comes down to one thing with Palumbo and it's his frame. He doesn't have the ideal frame to hold up long-term on the mound as a starter, which is where his three-pitch mix would work best for the Rangers.

Along with the frame, Palumbo is approaching the danger zone for prospects when it comes to age. He's entering his age-25 season, has never topped 100 innings in a season, and given his medical history, there’s durability risk with him handling a starter’s full season workload that's a very real concern for Rangers brass.

While it's nice to be able to slide back and forth between starting and relieving, it's a bit of a concern that Palumbo hasn't locked onto a role at any point in the minors, and doesn't have much of a defined role for 2020 in Texas. Having a top pitching prospect serve as a long reliever and a spot starter is less than ideal.


The athleticism, pitch arsenal, and makeup is all there for Palumbo to be a solid 3 or 4 starter in baseball for the next few years. Where Texas likes him best is anyone's guess, especially now with the way Texas addressed the rotation via free agency and trades. Palumbo will likely start 2020 in Triple-A Nashville, but should be one of the first in line if and when a starting pitcher goes down with an injury. 

Inside The Rangers Top 10 Preseason Prospect Rankings

10. Sherten Apostel
9. Maximo Acosta
8. Bayron Lora
7. Joe Palumbo

Each spot will be released daily. 

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