By Tyson Shushkewich
Ever since he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021, Damiano Palmegiani has wanted to keep moving forward on the baseball diamond.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, but a product of Surrey, B.C. after moving to Canada at the age of five, Palmegiani has emerged as a top prospect within the Blue Jays organization this season. His numbers in double-A New Hampshire have put him on the map amongst prospect watchers.
“I feel this year has been awesome, there have been lots of really good positives but also a lot of things to learn and bounce back from this season,” said Palmegiani. “I have loved the level of consistency I have maintained this year after cold or hot streaks during my last season.”
Through 105 games with the double-A Fisher Cats, the right-handed batter owns a .245 batting average and a .351 on-base percentage (OBP). He has also amassed 18 home runs and 70 RBIs, both of which are team-leading. The Junior National Team grad also sits tied with Will Robertson with 23 doubles on the year and has a strong .307 BAbip, .805 OPS, and a 13.0 BB% rate.
Defensively, Palmegiani has spent the majority of the season at third base and owns a .910 fielding percentage. He has also played first base and been used in the DH spot. Scouts believe he will be able to stick at either side of the diamond moving forward.
Palmegiani split last season between Single-A and High-A and recorded 24 homers and 83 RBIs while finishing with a collective .815 OPS.
“My mindset in the batter’s box has stayed the same as well and I’m trying to stay present and attack each day one pitch at a time,” said Palmegiani.
“I’m not chasing specific numbers and I know that if I stay on my game plan every day, everything will work itself out in the end.”
This is a sentiment that not only dates back to this offseason but also back to his high school days, when he was a member of the Vauxhall Jets program in Vauxhall, Alta.
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“Damiano was with Vauxhall for three years and the best words to describe him are dynamic and athletic, everything he did was those two traits,” said Les McTavish, who has been the head coach and director of baseball operations for the Vauxhall Jets dating back to 2006. “You were always waiting for something great to happen for him in all aspects of his output, whether it was baseball, basketball, or his work in the classroom, all eyes just followed him because he always gave 100%.”
That mentality with the Jets and his play on the diamond led to an opportunity to play south of the border at Cal State Northridge following his time in Vauxhall but it wasn’t until a transfer to the College of Southern Nevada for the 2021 campaign that Palmegiani really shined.
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The infielder continued to put the barrel on the ball and finished the season with a .389 average and 26 home runs, which inspired the Blue Jays to use their 14th-round pick on the power hitter. It was his second time being drafted by the organization. He was a 35th round selection in 2018, his senior year at Vauxhall, but choose not to sign.
“We have had a lot of players drafted from the program and to hear one of our own drafted by the Blue Jays is different and special for both him and the program,” said McTavish. “We are so proud of Damiano and these opportunities are a testament to his work ethic and continue to be the key driver to his impressive results on the diamond.”
With 18 games left on the Fisher Cats’ schedule to finish out the year, Palmegiani has been a staple on the diamond for the Blue Jays’ double-A affiliate and appears poised to finish out the season with the club, although one could make the argument that his bat belongs a step above. Getting his first crack at improved pitching in double-A, Palmegiani has showcased plus power which appears to only be getting better as he improves his plate approach, evidenced by his 58 walks on the season.
While the opportunity to move up another level in the Blue Jays’ ranks may have to wait until next year, the Blue Jays’ No.19 ranked prospect (via MLB Pipeline) is focused on how he can contribute on the field each and every game to help the Fisher Cats reach the postseason.
“My own goal(s) is just to keep maintaining my health and mental endurance each and every day. I hate to see the season coming to an end, so I want to make sure to attack each game with the same fire under me as I felt in the first few games of the year,” said the Blue Jays prospect. “I believe if we control what we can control one game at a time, we (the Fisher Cats) can make some noise down the stretch and nothing is out of the picture.”