Chicago Cubs prospect Daniel Palencia projected for breakout season

Daniel Palencia pitches during the South Bend Cubs vs. Peoria Chiefs minor league baseball game
Daniel Palencia pitches during the South Bend Cubs vs. Peoria Chiefs minor league baseball game / Chloe Trofatter / USA TODAY NETWORK

Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Daniel Palencia is beginning the season with Double-A Tennessee and enters the 2023 season as the team's 14th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Palencia has been on the radar of many prospect evaluators heading into the 2023 season and Jim Callis went as far as to list Palencia as the breakout prospect to watch for the Cubs this season.

"Cubs: Daniel Palencia, RHP (No. 14) Traded by the Athletics for Andrew Chafin in July 2021, Palencia has the best fastball among Cubs farmhands, working at 96-98 mph and peaking at 102 with explosive carry, and he also can break off some nasty sliders and knuckle-curves. Some scouts believe Palencia could help the Cubs this year if moved to the bullpen, while others like his upside as a starter. "Daniel is in our top tier of pitching prospects," Chicago vice president of player development Jared Banner said. "People short-change him as a starter because of his velocity and delivery, but all four of his pitches work.""

Jim Callis via MLB dot com

Palencia posted a 3.94 ERA in 21 games with High-Class-A South Bend during the 2022 season and perhaps the most impressive number was Palencia averaging 11.7 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched last season. Given the need that the Cubs may have in the bullpen, it is not a surprise to see Callis suggest that Palencia could make his Major League debut this season with the team. If the Cubs' current plan for the closer spot does not pan out and July arrives with the team not having a clear answer at the backend of their bullpen, Palencia may be an intriguing option.

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If there has been one flaw with the Cubs' pitching staff at the Major League level, it is that the staff lacks velocity. Palencia, regardless of when he makes his Major League debut, will provide a jolt for the team's pitching staff and a change of pace.