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Palensky Delivering In A Big Way For Somerset

June 18, 2023

Bridgewater, New Jersey - It wasn’t all that long ago that Somerset outfielder Aaron Palensky found himself behind the wheel of a delivery van hastily delivering Amazon packages around his native-Nebraska while his baseball future stood shrouded in uncertainty.

Bridgewater, New Jersey - It wasn’t all that long ago that Somerset outfielder Aaron Palensky found himself behind the wheel of a delivery van hastily delivering Amazon packages around his native-Nebraska while his baseball future stood shrouded in uncertainty.

It was June of 2020 and while COVID-19 ran rampant and shut down most collegiate and professional sports around the world, Major League Baseball shortened the annual amateur draft to just five rounds which drastically increased the pool of undrafted free-agents that would be looking for jobs soon thereafter. The University of Nebraska product expectedly didn’t get a call that June 10 day and pondered what his baseball future might look like.

In the days that followed, while working his normal delivery route, Palensky answered an incoming phone call – on the other end it was the New York Yankees to present him with a contract offer. He inked the deal on June 18 and three years later Palensky is still delivering, but he has a new employer.

The 24-year-old former Cornhusker has hit a career-high 14 homers, which is the second most in the Yankees minor league system, trailing only Estevan Florial. His power production is impressive, but doesn’t even come close to painting a picture of just how impressive his 2023 season is shaping up to be. Through 48 games of action entering play on June 18, Palensky leads the entire organization in almost every key offensive metric. Literally almost all of them. He leads all Yankees full-season minor leaguers in BA (.337), OBP (.447), SLG (.706) and OPS (1.153), while ranking second in RBI (42) and R (43). The SLG and OPS are both the second-highest in all of Minor League Baseball.

“I think about those times often whenever I see an Amazon van – I see them a lot,” admitted Palensky. “I just think back to those days during the whole COVID stuff; I wasn’t playing baseball and just how fortunate I am to be able to keep playing this game for a long time.”

Palensky opened the season at High-A Hudson Valley where he distinguished himself as one of the best hitters in all of MiLB. His .352/.434/.744 along with a South Atlantic League-leading 12 homers in 32 games with the Renegades before earning a well-deserved promotion to Somerset on May 31. This isn’t his first rodeo at Double-A, though.

After inking a deal with the Bombers in the summer of 2020, the organization gave him an aggressive assignment to open at Somerset in the spring of 2021 to make his professional debut. For reference, players usually get their feet wet in the Florida Complex League or Low-A – but Double-A? Pretty, pretty uncommon. Then again, not much about Palensky’s path has been ordinary.

“I think that it was good throwing me right into the fire,” admitted Palensky. “It made me learn on my own, learn on my feet. I made a lot of mistakes that I was able to learn from. Starting this year in Hudson Valley, I feel like I was able to learn from the 2021 season to my advantage to help propel me.”

That 2021 season brought forth many ups and downs for Palensky, but it probably made him a much better player in the long run for having gone through it. Palensky spent most of that season as a 21-year-old - he saw 37 games of action and slashed .216/.360/.378 with two homers and 14 RBI over 111 at-bats while seeing sporadic playing time.

“I would say that I’ve grown a lot,” said Palensky. “Just a little bit more consistent overall; a little more fine-tuned. Just a better athlete overall – I’m a couple of years older so I have a little bit more time to develop and mature. I would say that I’ve come a long way since then, but I still have a long way too go and still have to keep working hard.”

The Yankees reset last spring and Palensky spent all of 2022 at Hudson Valley, which is very much on par with where he should be in terms of player development. He hit 10 homers in 77 games and seemed to make the necessary adjustments to warrant regular playing time. But where did this 2023 power eruption come from?

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve made any crazy adjustments,” said Palensky. “It’s more of how I get to that power more often; I’m not really hitting the ball any harder than I used to. I’m just getting better at hitting it in the right spot – the right part of the barrel or the right spot in the air. Just working on getting a little more consistent and I think that it’s translating to the games.”

Most hitters that come to Somerset from High-A tend to endure an adjustment period when they see upper-level pitching for the first time. Because Palensky had a lengthy point of reference from his 2021 season, he has managed to thrive in his return to the Patriots and has shown zero signs of slowing down offensively.

“Playing in this league before, it definitely gave me something to expect. I think the guys around here, my teammates, I’m comfortable because I played with them a lot already. That paired with playing here in ‘21 helped prepare me for this.”

In 16 games with Somerset since his promotion, Palensky has slashed .289/.482/.579 with two homers and eight RBI with four stolen bases and a 11:7 K:BB ratio.

“Baseball is a crazy game – there are very high highs and very low lows, and I am no exception,” Palensky said. “Eliminating valleys is a huge thing so I am trying to stay on top of that stuff all of the time. Consistency is key. Consistency is probably the biggest difference between being in the big leagues and the minor leagues. Every day I’ve got to continue being my best, whether it is hitting, base-running or defense, it doesn’t matter what it is. I just want to be at my best all of the time.”

Matt Kardos | Beat Writer

Matt Kardos has covered the Yankees minor league system for over a decade and will spend his 11th season on the beat covering the Patriots for Throughout his career, Matt has contributed to, YES Network and Pinstriped Prospects. When he’s not at the ballpark, Matt enjoys traveling with his wife Kimberly, watching Jets football and collecting sports cards.