But as he quickly grew to 6'3” over the course of one year, the Canarsie native, who commuted daily to Holy Cross High School in Bayside, began attracting interest from several Major League Baseball teams, one of whom compared the 17-year-old to former All-Star Lorenzo Cain.
“It was at the point where I was like, ‘mom, can we check this out?' I’m growing a lot,” recalled Palmer of his abrupt growth spurt in a phone interview with BQE Media. “I had grown three inches after my sophomore year. The doctor told me I was going to grow even more. It was so crazy.”
As a junior, Palmer became one of the standout baseball players in the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA), and over his last two seasons – he graduated with a First Team All-CHSAA honor – the skilled shortstop had made connections with teams like the Twins, Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Mets.
“I can never expect a guy to get drafted, but by the time he was starting his junior year, guys that we knew were scouts would see him and they liked what they saw,” said Holy Cross baseball head coach Steve Adams.
“Then going into his senior year I was starting to get calls, emails and different things from different scouts,” he added. “Guys were coming into school over the winter just to see him take batting practice in the cage. We said, ‘wow, okay, this is probably going to happen.’ It was just a matter of when and what round.”
It was the Mets who elected to keep the local product close to home by selecting Palmer in the 22nd round in last month’s MLB Draft. Last week, the CHSAA Player of the Year finalist decided to officially forgo college, where he had interest from schools like Wake Forest and LIU Brooklyn, and sign with the Mets.
The soon-to-be 18 year old is currently in a program with the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast League Mets to get him back up to speed, with plans of playing him later this season.
“The process was really exciting for me,” Palmer said of interacting with MLB teams prior to draft day. “So many big league teams are contacting me, coming to my house, asking me questions and stuff like that.”
Few athletes on the baseball field are 6'3” and 190 pounds, much less a teenager. Palmer isn’t just one of the more physically gifted players New York City has produced in recent years, but the talent is easy to capture.
Adams even suggests that the potential-packed prospect doesn’t realize just how good he can be.
“I think he’s so untapped still as a player,” he said, confident that Palmer can get to the next level. “I don’t even think all his baseball skill has been touched yet. It’s Major League Baseball so, yes, he could fall flat on his face, but he could become a scary player.”
Palmer’s heard that before. Often, in fact. He also believes he brings a level of untapped potential, however he insists that he knows that and is working to live up to the hype.
He himself has exceedingly high ambitions dating back to when he fell in love with the sport as a child in Canarsie playing baseball in Spring Creek.
“I kept waking up every day, ‘Mom can we go play baseball? Dad, can you take me to the game?' The support system they gave me was a blessing,” said Palmer, who models his game and attitude after Derek Jeter. “I want to make it all the way up to the big leagues, to the top, and my goal as a player is to become a Hall of Famer.”
Adams says he’s never had an issue over his four years with the shortstop, and adds that Palmer was one of the most well-respected players in the clubhouse and grew into a leader as a senior.
Perhaps one day it will all click for the new Met.
“He needs to come out of himself a little more,” said Adams. “He’s done the work physically but I don’t think he understands really how good he can be. It might just all the sudden pop for him.”