Carson Palmquist was a lanky left-handed pitcher at Riverdale (Fla.) High. He didn’t draw significant MLB draft interest in 2019 and instead honored his commitment to the University of Miami.
Palmquist has thrived as a multi-inning reliever in his first two years at Miami. Despite his success out of the bullpen, Palmquist offers intriguing potential as a starting pitcher due to his three-pitch mix and deceptive delivery.
Palmquist will compete for a starting spot in Miami’s rotation this spring. If Palmquist excels in a starting role, it will enhance his value for the 2022 draft. Scouts project the junior hurler as a likely early-round pick with the potential to solidify himself as a first-round talent this spring.
“It’s a very awesome experience,” Palmquist said. “It’s been a dream come true. I couldn’t have imagined three or four years ago that I would be sitting in the spot I am in. The goal I have in mind is getting the team back to (the College World Series), and then it’s just unreal to think I am in this situation as a draft prospect.”
Palmquist posted a 2.31 ERA with 15 strikeouts and five walks allowed in 11 2/3 innings in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Last year as a sophomore, Palmquist recorded a 2.22 ERA with 75 strikeouts and eight walks allowed in 44 2/3 innings.
On the mound, Palmquist is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound lefty that throws a four-seam fastball, changeup and slider from a sidearm slot that makes it difficult for right-handed and left-handed hitters to pick up the baseball out of his hand.
In previous years, Palmquist primarily relied on his fastball, changeup combination. His fastball is his best pitch. It sits in the low-90s but plays up due to the deception in his delivery. His changeup also is a quality offering that flashes above-average potential.
Palmquist’s delivery draws comparisons to Boston Red Sox left-handed pitcher Chris Sale, a former Cy Young Award winner. Even with his unique delivery, Palmquist attacks the strike zone and throws a high percentage of strikes.
“I hide the ball very, very well when it comes out of my hand,” Palmquist said. “That is one of the main things I think about is how can I hide it better or hold it for another split second longer to throw the hitter off so the hitter doesn’t see it.”
Palmquist started throwing his slider more in the fall season. He hopes his slider can be a consistent third pitch and serve as a potential swing-and-miss offering, he said.
“I just need to believe in it more,” Palmquist said. “Throw it more and get comfortable throwing it and know what counts to throw it in and where I am supposed to throw it.”
Palmquist has high expectations for himself and Miami this spring. The Hurricanes posted a 33-21 record and qualified for the NCAA tournament last year.
This season, the Hurricanes return numerous key contributors from last year and bring in a highly-regarded recruiting class. They hope to take the next step and advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, for the first time since 2016.
“Last year, one of our main problems was not sticking together,” Palmquist said. “When we would start losing games, we would start falling apart. This year, we have a great team and atmosphere. Everyone wants to win. We should make a great run at it this year.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.