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Twins' Palka homers twice in spring debut

Minnesota's No. 29 prospect blasts two of first three pitches he sees
March 22, 2016

Daniel Palka wasted no time making a first impression for the Minnesota Twins.

The organization's No. 29 prospect, who was acquired last November from the Arizona Diamondbacks and has yet to play above Class A Advanced, homered twice in his first two spring at-bats Tuesday in a 7-5 split-squad win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.

The 24-year-old slugger got the nod from manager Paul Molitor to bat seventh and serve as the DH just a day after he was assigned to the Twins roster and Palka made the most of his opportunity at the expense of Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound outfielder/first baseman swung and missed on Eickhoff's first offering to him in the second inning but took the next pitch over the right-field wall for a solo shot to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. Two innings later, Palka hit another solo homer, this time to center, off Eickhoff's first pitch of the at-bat.

The power of Palka comes as no surprise, as the third-round selection by the Diamondbacks out of Georgia Tech in 2013 belted a Midwest League-best 22 home runs in 2014 for Class A South Bend.

The next season, Palka went deep 29 times for Class A Advanced Visalia while hitting .280/.352/.532 before the Twins acquired him in a deal that sent catcher Chris Herrmann to the D-backs.

With Palka's power, however, also comes susceptibility to strikeouts. Palka fanned 129 times in 455 at-bats in 2014 for South Bend and then 164 times in 511 at-bats for Visalia in 2015.

The trade-off was evident in the sixth inning when Palka attempted to go for the trifecta but struck out on three consecutive swing-and-misses against James Russell. Palka was then lifted for pinch-hitter Tanner English in the eighth.

Michael Peng is a contributor to