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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Daniel Palencia

He was a nice add from an organization that likes to trade prospects when contending.

Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I try, with my prospect profiles, to be somewhat timely. If news is breaking regarding a certain team, I try to ease in a certain player with whom that news might better resonate with that news background. Over the last week or so, the latest dissolution of the Oakland Athletics seems likely. Their starting corner infielders (Matt Chapman and Matt Olson) are being shopped. With that news, jumping back to look at the Cubs’ addition of pitcher Daniel Palencia from the A’s organization seems appropriate.

Oakland has a tendency to go more aggressively for the current season than most teams do. (For instance, while the A’s traded two prospects for a reliever, the main St. Louis Cardinals’ move was to add Jon Lester on waivers. Which worked.) While I hesitate to say they regularly go all-in, Billy Beane’s side is more prone to using prospects as trade pieces than retaining them until they start in MLB. t’s rarely 100 percent this way or even 90 percent, but the A’s see perfectly willing to trade quantity for quality if contending. For instance, they sent away Addison Russell and Billy McKinney in 2014. If they’re having a good season, they’re a valid trade partner.

With the looming sell-off, which Beane knew of before I did, one last dive at the postseason seemed a reasonable gamble. Lefty Andrew Chafin upgraded their bullpen, making them better. The team was about to hit self-destruct mode, which Beane was unaware of. Chafin for Greg Deichmann would have been a realistic roster-offset swap, but to get the deal done, an extra piece was needed. Enter Daniel Palencia.

Daniel Palencia

Right-handed-pitcher. Born February 5, 2000. San Carlos, Venezuela.
International signing by the Athletics in February 2020. Added by the Cubs in the Andrew Chafin trade.

So far, Palencia is largely a two-pitch pitcher. One is a fastball that goes anywhere from 97 to 101. He also has a curve that, when he gets it anywhere near the plate, is unfair when Low-A hitters are gearing up for 99 or so. A fun thing about Palencia is that he carries his games into the fourth or fifth inning as often as not in the Cubs pipeline.

Palencia made six starts in the A’s system, and seven with the Cubs. He surrendered an equal number of earned runs in each organization. Eleven in 14⅓ innings with the A’s, and an equal eleven with the Cubs in 27 innings. His ERA with Stockton was 6.91, and with Myrtle Beach was 3.67. His highest pitch count pre-trade was 57; his lowest after was 62, with a high of 87.

I lean against making lists. Not because I don’t have opinions, but because I don’t want my opinions to be over-inflated. Nonetheless, here is my list of the five pitching prospects the Cubs added in July, based on likelihood to matter into the future.

Caleb Kilian

(medium-sized space)

Anderson Espinoza

(smaller space)

Daniel Palencia

(medium-sized space)

Alexander Vizcaino/Bailey Horn (interchangable)

Any of these pitchers could be of value. Or they could get injured or stop developing, and get inappropriately disregarded as bad selections. All five made a rather lukewarm Cubs pitching pipeline more enjoyable in 2021. And all could be far better in 2022.

The A’s, as an aggressive trader, were a suitable trade partner in 2021. Any team that is aggressively trying to trade the future for the present would be a suitable trade partner in 2022, as well. I still view 2022 as a step toward 2023 and beyond, more than a destination. The team considering 2022 a destination, as the Mets, A’s, Braves, White Sox, and Yankees did in 2021, are likely being welcomed to submit offers.

I find it odd that Fangraphs has Palencia (97 and up with duration and a curveball) over Bryce Ball. However, both are 40+ values, and Palecia is ranked 30th. The Brewers, by comparison, have only 21 40-plus types total. The Cubs are nicely positioned, and I’m ready for my next affiliated Palencia start.