Jermaine Palacios' path to the big leagues became somewhat easier on Saturday.
The Twins traded their 27th-ranked prospect to the Rays for Major League right-hander Jake Odorizzi.
Signed out of Venezuela in September 2013, Palacios bounced back from a difficult full-season debut in 2016 with a solid offensive campaign. The 21-year-old shortstop began the year with Class A Cedar Rapids, where he hit .320/.362/.544 with 11 homers, six triples, 13 doubles and 39 RBIs in 62 games. Promoted to Class A Advanced Fort Myers in June, he compiled a .269/.303/.359 line in 62 games in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
Scouts agree that Palacios can handle himself well at the plate, with a strong hit tool and occasional power. Although he possesses average speed, he stole 20 bases in 35 attempts in 2017. And with a plus arm and decent range, he could find a home at shortstop or second base upon reaching the Majors.
"This is somebody that, by our own work and by our own information, what we see here is a lean, wiry Venezuelan shortstop who has had plenty of offensive success," Rays general manager Erik Neander told MLB.com. "Carries the position defensively well. Very good arm. Very good hands.
" ... He's someone we think has some offensive upside. He can play shortstop and play it well. All reports on the makeup are very positive. This is someone we think can grow into more physical strength ... might have another gear up from here. You look at what he's accomplished to date on the field, combined with the tool set, along with the makeup, we think that this is a really exciting player to add to our system."
Offseason MiLB include
However, the Twins deemed the 6-foot, 145-pounder expendable, thanks to the glut of talented shortstops in their system. Minnesota drafted high school shortstop Royce Lewis -- MLB.com's No. 20 overall prospect -- with the top pick in last year's Draft, while the club's No. 4 prospect, Nick Gordon, has been in the system since 2014 and reached Double-A last season. The Twins also have talented 19-year-old Wander Javier, who they signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.
Palacios still faces competition at the position in the Rays system. No. 22 overall prospect Willy Adames represents the Rays' top prospect at the position, with 16-year-old free-agent signee Wander Franco -- who has yet to play a game in the Minors -- slotting in at No. 2.
Odorizzi, 27, was 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA and 127 strikeouts over 143 1/3 innings in 28 starts for Tampa Bay last season. Part of two no-hitters in the Minor Leagues, he owns a 3.83 ERA over six big league seasons.