The Chicago White Sox have claimed 26-year-old outfielder and first baseman Daniel Palka off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) November 4, 2017
Palka is a left-handed hitter and thrower and is listed at 6'2", 220 pounds. He was a 3rd round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2013 First Year Player Draft. The Twins acquired the Georgia Tech product last year in a trade and were trying to outright him off of their 40-man roster. Some beat writers and baseball analysts weighed in on the move.
— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) November 4, 2017
— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) November 3, 2017
Daniel Palka is a 26yo lefty 1B/DH with plus raw power. Crushed AA as a 24yo. .274/.329/.431 in AAA last year but did reduce K rate
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) November 3, 2017
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) November 3, 2017
Palka was the 22nd-ranked prospect in the Minnesota organization according to mlbpipeline.com. They credit him with being a solid overall hitter but they also note that he gives up at-bats too often because he tries to sell out for power frequently. The scouting report further mentions that he's always a threat with his well-above average power and plus bat speed and add that he can turn on any fastball. The former Yellow Jacket is said to be "fine in an outfield corner and can play first base" defensively. He could profile on the "long end of a platoon but if he can elevate his hit skills with better on base ability, he could become a power-first everyday player". Pipeline's scouting grades on Palka: Hit 40, Power 55, Run 45, Arm 45, Field 45.
Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs listed Palka as the #11 prospect in the Twins system prior to the 2017 campaign. He's said that Palka possesses plus raw pull power and has no trouble getting to it in games because of his "pull happy uppercut, beer league softball swing". Longenhagen also notes that Palka hit 29 homers in the California League in 2016 but said that the "industry was a little skeptical about the power because of his age, the level of play, and hitter-friendly nature of the league". Fangraph's lead prospect analyst also mentioned that the hitter smoothed out a big leg kick that he was previously utilizing and his timing was better as a result. The slugger's "weight transfer is so aggressive that he's often way out on his front foot against breaking balls and unable to do anything with them". On a more positive note, the report opines that Palka's eye for the strike zone could be his saving grace. The report summed up with, "The home runs are a side dish to a main course of strikeouts". The newest addition to the White Sox could be a three-true-outcome, low-end regular if his walk rate holds into the majors. He is reported to have a plus arm and the publication lists right field as Palka's best defensive fit, though reports on his glove work vary.
Daniel attended Georgia Tech and was the 111th ranked player in the 2013 MLB Draft according to Baseball America. As a Freshman with the "Ramblin Wreck", The South Carolina native hit 12 homers and had a .931 .OPS. He had almost an identical season as a Sophomore in 2012. In his breakout campaign as a college junior, Palka put up an .OPS of 1.073 with a .295 .ISO while clubbing 17 homers. He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and started mashing upon arrival. The big lefty hit 60 homers across multiple minor league levels between 2013-2015. He was also 4th in the MiLB with 34 homers in 2016. Palka battled a fractured finger last season but did step to the dish 362 times for the Twins Triple-A affiliate in Rochester. There he slashed .274/.329/.431 to go with 11 homers and 42 RBI while striking out 80 times compared to 27 walks.
Here is video of Palka taking BP during the Arizona Fall League in 2016, courtesy of Baseball America:
...and Palka hitting two homers during Spring Training last year:
...and Palka belting another Spring Training moonshot vs the Pirates
Chicago White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn has stated and will continue to state that his club is in the midst of a rebuild. These are the types of moves that teams in a position similar to the Pale Hose frequently make. Palka is a 26-year-old power hitter seemingly knocking on the door to the big leagues. He will not be getting his first shot with the Twins but has a realistic shot to compete for a big league job in Chicago in 2018. He can play 1B, DH, and the OF and possesses thunderous power from the left side of the plate. The Sox were likely attracted to that power in addition to his success during the 2016 Arizona Fall League. It's no secret that the team's brass has often acquired players they scouted heavily in the prospect showcase. Daniel Palka is no different. This is a low risk move for the front office to see if a talented player could become a mainstay on Chicago's south side and likely the first of many in the same vein.
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