By Patrick Britt
Preston Palmeiro has always been known as “Rafael’s son,” and while he doesn’t mind that label, he’s working to change it.
Palmeiro, the Orioles’ seventh-round draft pick out of NC State in 2016, just started his 2019 season with Double-A Bowie. After hitting .251/.309/.401 with 17 home runs and 64 RBIs during 131 games for High-A Frederick last year, it seems Palmeiro might be putting himself in a position where he could finally make a name for himself.
“I don’t think there’s ever gonna be a time where I’ll be able to escape my dad, and I don’t mind that,” Palmeiro said on Glenn Clark Radio April 11. “It’s great to be a part of that legacy. He had an unbelievable career, and I go a lot of places and I get recognized because of that and it’s really cool. But it is nice to be getting to a level where depending on how you do you can start making a name more for yourself and it won’t always be, ‘Oh, that’s Preston Palmeiro, son of Rafael Palmeiro.'”
Moving up from any level in baseball is difficult. Whether it’s moving in between levels in the minors or going from Triple-A to the big leagues, there will always be adjustments that need to be made as a response to the higher level of competition.
Palmeiro, 24, has steadily climbed the organizational ladder each season, so he’s used to making the necessary adjustments in order to produce. But Double-A is different — it’s when the pitching becomes more similar to what a player might see in the big leagues.
“It’s not like guys are now throwing 104 [mph] as opposed to 97. It’s the same, you still have guys that throw really hard, just like last year,” Palmeiro said. “Guys have a better feel for their pitches and they throw everything in every count. It’s the first time that you’ll really play baseball where guys have the ability to throw two or three pitches at any point for strikes, so that’s been the biggest adjustment.”
Palmeiro hit 46 doubles, 30 home runs and 141 RBIs from 2017-2018 for the Keys and Low-A Delmarva. Palmeiro’s bat, and particularly the power, will have to carry the first baseman to the major leagues.
“They always say, ‘If you have the ability to hit the three-run home run, you’re never out of the game,’ and anybody that can do that can play in the big leagues and they’re valuable to that lineup,” Palmeiro said. “… If that power tool stands out, it’s kind of hard to turn that down in the minor leagues and somebody might look for that in the big leagues. So the more you hit, the better it tends to be these days.”
Despite the Orioles better-than-expected start to the season, it’s still expected that the 2019 season will be dedicated to development at the major and minor league levels. For players like Palmeiro and the rest of his Baysox teammates, that means that there are a lot of reasons to be excited.
Palmeiro explained that a lot of the young, talented minor leaguers will get chances in the big leagues with the Orioles in rebuild mode. And with the consistent progress that he has already made throughout the farm system, Palmeiro could potentially earn one of those opportunities.
If that is the case, he’ll be one step closer to being known as something other than Rafael’s son.
“You feel like there’s that chance, but if you’re playing for somebody that’s winning 110 games in the big leagues with a bunch of All-Star players, it might make it a little bit harder and you might feel like you’re stuck, but for us, there’s a lot of excitement,” Palmeiro said of the opportunities looming. “Guys are pumped up.”
For more from Palmeiro, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Bill Vaughan/Bowie Baysox