The Guardians announced they’ve recalled left fielder/second baseman Richie Palacios to make his major league debut. Cleveland also activated catcher Luke Maile from the 10-day injured list. In corresponding moves, backstop Bryan Lavastida was optioned to Triple-A Columbus, while left-hander Kirk McCarty was returned to the minors and removed from the 40-man roster.
Palacios was already on the 40-man, having been selected before Rule 5 protection day last November. A third-round pick out of Towson in 2018, the left-handed hitter has played his way up the minor league ladder with strong numbers at every stop. Palacios had a nice run in the low minors during his post-draft summer, but he missed the entire 2019 campaign after tearing the labrum in his shoulder. The canceled 2020 minors season cost him another year, but the Brooklyn native played his way onto the 40-man roster with an impressive showing last year.
Splitting the season between Double-A Akron and Columbus, Palacios hit .297/.404/.471 in 428 plate appearances. While he only hit seven home runs, he rapped 33 doubles and swiped 20 bases. As his excellent on-base percentage attests, Palacios drew walks in a robust 13.6% of his plate appearances against just a 16.4% strikeout rate. Baseball America named him the #14 prospect in a deep Guardians’ farm system this winter, praising his hit tool, plate discipline and gap power while noting some questions about his best defensive fit.
The Guardians signed Maile to a one-year deal over the winter to serve as the #2 backstop behind Austin Hedges. He missed the first few weeks of the year with a left hamstring strain, leading Cleveland to turn to the 23-year-old Lavastida for a brief first look. He collected just one hit and three walks in 15 plate appearances, but that was to be expected for a player with just 36 games above High-A coming into the year. Lavastida will have a chance to get more regular reps at Triple-A with Maile back to spell Hedges as needed.
McCarty, meanwhile, was selected to the majors as a COVID substitute last week. Cleveland was without Cal Quantrill, Owen Miller and Anthony Castro at the time, but Quantrill and Miller have since made it back. Tanner Tully, who had also been selected as a COVID replacement, was returned to Columbus over the weekend. Cleveland now has one open 40-man roster spot, but both Castro and Yu Chang remain on the COVID injured list and will have to be reinstated once healthy.