When Carson Palmquist arrived at Miami three years ago, he was an overlooked recruit with a fairly standard arm slot that fell just below three-quarters.
A few seasons later, having proven himself as a closer and a starter for the ‘Canes, Palmquist’s delivery looks a lot different. The 6-foot-4 southpaw became more hunched in his motion and his arm slot dropped to near-sidearm, all of which contributed to the Rockies drafting him in the third round at No. 88 overall on Monday.
“Over my years at Miami, I don’t know why, but I’ve slowly dropped my arm slot down,” Palmquist said. “It wasn’t a huge change, to where I knew I was making a change, but it just slowly dropped down little-by-little. It was never a planned thing. It just feels natural and comfortable, and (the pitch action) is an added benefit now.”
Palmquist features a low-90s fastball he can rev up to 96, plus a slurve (78-80 mph) and a circle changeup (73-75) that he said is “one of my go-to pitches.”
And in regards to his mindset on the mound Rockies assistant general manager of scouting Danny Montgomery said Palmquist is comparable to Colorado’s most recent first-round left-hander to make the majors, Kyle Freeland (drafted No. 8 overall in 2014).
“He’s a bulldog,” Montgomery said. “He has that type of Freeland attitude about what he’s doing. Even though he’s kind of a slender-body guy, his stuff works in and out of the zone, he’s got that sinker he can use (for weak contact and strikeouts). Anytime you can give your club an opportunity to have a left-handed starter, (you take it). It’d be different if we felt like he was just a bullpen guy, but we don’t. He’s been able to log some innings and he’s done it with efficiency.”
Palmquist spent his first two seasons in Miami as a reliever, posting a 2.31 ERA in eight games in ’20 before becoming the closer in ’21. That season, he had a 2.22 ERA and 14 saves in 25 outings before converting to the rotation. He was Miami’s top starter this past season, going 9-4 with a 2.89 ERA with 118 strikeouts to 32 walks.
The past two seasons underscored a rapid collegiate rise for Palmquist, who wasn’t drafted out of Riverdale High School in Fort Meyers despite not allowing an earned run over his junior and senior years.
The Rockies plan to develop Palmquist as a starter. The southpaw said he plans to sign a pro contract sometime soon (the draft signing deadline is August 1, and Palmquist’s slot value is $713,000). From there, Colorado’s pitching coordinators will assess what to do with him this summer. If Palmquist does make his pro debut this year, it will likely be with Low-A Fresno.
“We think he can go out as a starter and develop, and in time make that decision as necessary (whether to convert him back to the bullpen),” Rockies head amateur scout Marc Gustafson said. “It’s definitely an interesting arm slot with stuff. We don’t have that type of left-hander in the system currently.”