Scrappers rainout stalls Palacios' promising outing


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By BRIAN DZENIS

bdzenis@vindy.com

NILES

The sample size is small, but the early returns look good for Mahoning Valley Scrappers second baseman Richie Palacios.

After Sunday’s 8-6 victory against the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Cleveland Indians third-round draft pick picked up enough at-bats to have his stats count among the leaders of the New York-Penn League.

In 64 at-bats across 18 games, he has a league-best .391 batting average and .468 on-base percentage, surpassing teammate Tyler Freeman for the lead in both categories.

Palacios appeared in five games for the Indians’ rookie-ball affiliate in the Arizona League before joining the Scrappers. He’s collected 25 hits, three doubles, a triple and two home runs and 14 RBIs.

“It’s been the same approach I’ve always had my whole life. I just look for a good pitch to hit,” Palacios said. “I’m focused on what’s in front of me and how I can help this team. It’s my most important feature.”

Palacios didn’t get a chance to build on his numbers in the No. 3 spot in the lineup Monday night because the closing game of a three-game homestand was canceled due to poor field conditions.

The sun was out when the announcement was made by the team around 8 p.m., but an earlier downpour left the field unplayable.

“If you walk the field, it’s unplayable and it’s going to be unplayable for quite a while longer,” Scrappers manager Jim Pankovits said. “With a pretty good threat of some rain when the field might be playable, we decided we weren’t taking the chance.”

The game won’t be made up.

Pankovits wasn’t thrilled with the rainout, but has been pleased with Palacios’ production.

“I like everything. He has a quick bat. He uses the whole field. He’s got surprising power for his size,” Pankovits said. “He has quickness, speed and a pretty good arm and pretty good aptitude.”

Baseball runs in the Palacios family as the nephew of former Kansas City Royals catcher Rey Palacios.

His older brother, Joshua, is playing full-season Single A ball in the Toronto Blue Jays system. He also boasts the title of owning the highest draft selection for a player from Towson University.

In college, he was the first player in school history to reach 200 hits in his junior season. He also set the program records for stolen bases (32) and the freshman record for hits (74).

But all of that is behind him.

“It doesn’t mean much to me, but I’m glad those things did come forth, but I just attest that to the hard work that I’ve put in my whole life,” Palacios said. “I don’t get caught up in that stuff and there’s no added pressure.

“It’s baseball, so I enjoy it. I still have fun everyday out there on the field and that’s what I pay the most attention to.”

The Scrappers will get back to work tonight on the road against the Auburn Doubledays, which starts a six-game road trip. While the Scrappers still sit at the top of the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division standings, the team is a bit of a slump, losing four of its last five games.

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