Photo by: Cristina Byrne-Sternberg/Rocket City Trash Pandas
By Chuck Richter, AngelsWin.com
October 25th, 2022
You may be thinking, is that Rafael Palmeiro's son who over two decades was one of only seven players in MLB history to be a member of both the 3,000 hit club and the 500 home run club, a list that features legends Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Albert Pujols, and most recently Miguel Cabrera.
Yes, Rafael had two sons who played professional ball in Patrick Ryne Palmeiro who was drafted by the Pirates and played three seasons of minor league ball and Preston.
Preston was drafted by one of his father's teams, the Baltimore Orioles, in the seventh round of the 2016 draft. After five years in the Orioles system, Preston was signed by the Angels heading into the 2021 campaign and played most of last season at Triple-A Salta Lake, batting .243 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI in 109 games.
Palmeiro finished the 2022 season with the Rocket City Trash Pandas in Double-A with a .741 OPS, was second in the Southern League in doubles (31) and led the club in RBI's with 60.
If you were thinking, boy he looks just like his dad. You're not wrong! The resemblance is uncanny in this side-by-side of Preston and Rafael Palmeiro.
Preston is also versatile on defense and a slick fielding defender at first base where he sported a .994 fielding percentage this past season. In addition to first base Palmeiro played 2B, 3B and LF in 2022 for the Trash Pandas.
We asked Palmeiro what his most memorable moment was in his baseball career. Here's just one of many special moments in his baseball career, a walk-off hits from Palmeiro, this one to clinch the series for NC State in 2016. The same year he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 7th round.
The night before my first trip to Rocket City there was an hour-long rain delay and down two runs in the 9th inning the fans who remained were treated with a three-run walk off home run by Preston Palmeiro. Clutch!
We had a chance to talk to Preston Palmeiro in what was my favorite interview during my time at Toyota Field covering the Trash Pandas. We covered several topics which includes what it was like growing up in a baseball family, memories of dad, some of his finest moments in both college and professional ball and he went on to provide some insights from the rich group of prospects that were his teammates this past season.
While the interview was outstanding from start to finish, my favorite response from Preston was the last question when I asked him "When you’re done playing baseball, what will your next career look like?" Check out the interview below to see his response and enjoy!
AngelsWin.com: Chuck Richter from AngelsWin.com, here with Preston Palmeiro. How you doing, Preston?
Preston Palmeiro: I’m doing good; thanks for having me.
AngelsWin.com: Good. First off, how exciting is it to be a part of this Rocket City Trash Panda playoff run that you guys are on?
Preston Palmeiro: It’s really cool. I mean, I’ve been around, obviously, for a while now, playing. And I’ve been on a playoff team before, but this is different; this has been really special to be here.
AngelsWin.com: Yeah. What will fans come to learn—Angel fans come to learn—about you, the player and the person?
Preston Palmeiro: That’s a big one, right? I don’t know. I mean, I think there’s a lot, I guess. You know, I mean, I’ve been around a while, like I said. You know, I’ve played, obviously, six or seven years, whatever it’s been now, and then, you know, I come from an area that’s, you know, big baseball background, right? So, I know the game and everything like that.
And, you know, I think for myself, like, my career hasn’t, obviously, gone exactly how you draw it up, right? Like, everyone thinks it’s just going to be, “Hey, we’re going to get drafted and go straight to the big leagues.” And so, I’ve had to learn a lot about myself as a player, and the things I need to do to get better. And, you know, I think I’m doing a better job of that, being a more consistent player. And I think part of that comes from being just a good teammate, you know? I try to be that for these guys; there’s a lot of young guys here: Soto, Maitan, Neto, and even O’ Hoppe—even though he’s, like, the best player on the planet. You know, you forget, like, he’s 22-years-old.
And so, just trying to be someone that these guys can, kind of, lean on and, you know, help them learn from some of my experiences and just, you know, help them maybe make is a little bit easier; make the road a little bit smoother for them. So, I just try to be—I don’t necessarily want to say a leader or anything like that for them, because, you know, that’s not necessarily my job. But I just want to do what I can to help them get better at the game, and then, you know, to not let it weigh on them so much, because minor-league baseball can be tough, you know? And baseball can be tough in general; it can be hard on your mental. So, I just try to be there for them.
AngelsWin.com: On that baseball-background front, tell us a little bit about what it was like growing up watching your dad play and being around baseball during that time?
Preston Palmeiro: That was pretty special, you know? Obviously, I tell people all the time when they ask. Like, I had, basically, the greatest childhood you can think of, right? Like, I’ve been baseball crazy my whole life. I live baseball. I go home after our games; I watch baseball. You know, that’s what I was doing today. The college football wasn’t very good this morning, so I threw on, like, the Cardinals and Reds game, right? And it’ just—I just grew up in that environment. And, like, every day was it was just I went with my dad to the field with one of my older brothers; we’d just go and be around my dad and all these teammates, and I was just in this environment.
And so, I was totally immersed in baseball. And I just thought, like, this is it, like, I don’t—not that there’s anything wrong with doing anything else—but to me, I was, like, “I want to be a baseball player.” Because it just seemed like the greatest thing you could do. And just, kind of, growing up in that was really special. It was just seeing all the things I got to see was something that a lot of people I know would really be grateful to have experienced, and I’m really thankful I did.
AngelsWin.com: What’s your favorite memory of your dad playing baseball?
Preston Palmeiro: Well, I mean, there’s a couple. For me, it was really, really special, because I—my dad finished playing when I was 10. So, like, some of the memories are, kind of, like, you know, here and there, whatever. But I vividly remember his 3000th hit. I remember his 500th homerun pretty well, but I vividly remember hit-3000. And that one was really special, because to me, I was at a point in time; I was 10 years old when he did it. And so, I was, like, I was totally in love with the game, you know? And that’s what I wanted to do. And so, to be able to see my dad do that at the end of his career and be there for it and, kind of, document the whole thing, that was about as cool it can get. And just see that accomplishment; seeing him going, you know, 500 homerun-3000 club was—that was really cool.
AngelsWin.com: That is, yeah. What part of your game do you take the most pride in, whether hitting, defense, baserunning?
Preston Palmeiro: Obviously, I would say my defense. You know, I guess I’ve been a hitter my whole life, right? Like, I mean, that’s really why I’ve played as long as I have and everything like that. But I think the defense is the thing I’m most proud of, because the hitting can, kind of, come and go. The best hitters in the world, everybody can slump, and anything can happen. But the defense is, in my opinion, the one thing you have total control of each and every day.
And so, to me, whether it’s at first base, second base, third, outfield, whatever it is, my goal is to be the best defensive player that I can be. And I feel that I do, you know, a pretty good job of that, especially at first base. So, to me, I take pride in the fact that, you know, when I’m at first base, infielders are comfortable with me being there; pitchers are comfortable with me being there, because maybe, I’ll make a play. And so, that, to me, is something that, you know, I take pride in.
AngelsWin.com: Yeah. Okay. What do you feel, like, you need to work on to get that call-up, to get that promotion to the big leagues?
Preston Palmeiro: Ah, that’s a tough one; you never really know. Ryan Aguilar and I were talking about this yesterday, actually, because, you know, it was really cool, obviously, to see him get the call, and we’re just talking. And it’s one of those things in the game where you don’t really know. You know, it could be so many different things. I mean, just in my opinion, I think, from an offensive standpoint, that’s the biggest thing, and I think it’s a consistency thing more than anything. I think, there’s flashes in there, obviously, each and every year of my career where it’s, like, I’m sure people see it. And they go, “Okay, he can do this.” But then, maybe, it’s a two-week stretch, or maybe it’s a month’s stretch, and then maybe the next two weeks after that aren’t nearly as productive.
And, to me, the biggest separator in the big leagues and the minor leagues is not necessarily talent level, it’s a consistency. And obviously, there’s the Trouts and the Ohtanis of the world that are superhuman, and they’re great every year. But, you know, for the majority of players, in my opinion, it’s a consistency thing. They do it day in day out, and they get to the big leagues, and it doesn’t change. And they’re not superhuman, they just show up each and every day, and they produce. And so, I think for me, it’s just being consistent from, you know, April 5th or 6th, whatever Opening Day is, until September 18th. And that, I think, in the long run, will, you know, maybe help me get that call.
AngelsWin.com: So, you’ve been with the organization for a little bit. Are you, kind of, left to your own devices in terms of workout, diet, things you work on in terms of hitting and defense, or does the organization have, like, a plan for you?
Preston Palmeiro: They do have a plan, especially in terms of, like, the nutrition and the working outside things. I mean, that is, like, in season, that is totally up to them. Like, out workouts, the food we get, everything is on them.
The hitting is—I mean, like with Kenny here, obviously, it’s me and him working together. And then with Tony Jaramillo, our hitting coordinator, is in town, there might be something he sees that we discuss. But as far as the hitting goes, I mean, it’s not necessarily a detailed plan, maybe, for me and, maybe, some younger guys, it could be different; I’m not really sure about that.
But, like, the defensive side, there is a little bit more. Where, like, for me, like, this year, I played more third base. So, that was something that they, kind of, went—Andy, specifically, is worked with me a lot on it. He’s been, like, “Hey, this is what we’re going to work on; this is what we’re going to do.”
The hitting side of thing, that’s more of an open-end discussion with Tony or with Kenny where I’m, like, “Hey, this is what I feel; this is what I think I need to work on.” And maybe, like, “Yeah, we agree.” Or if they disagree and we talk about it, we try and figure it out. But that could just be a little bit more of me having, you know, maybe a better understanding of that area.
AngelsWin.com: You mentioned O’Hoppe earlier; who’s impressed you the most, both as a teammate, and, actually, an opposing player in this league this year?
Preston Palmeiro: I mean, the most impressive player that we played is Elly De La Cruz.
AngelsWin.com: I hear that a lot.
Preston Palmeiro: You know, he’s—I played against Oneil Cruz when he was with Pittsburgh. He got traded over, and [crosstalk 00:07:31]—
AngelsWin.com: Similar type of player.
Preston Palmeiro: —very similar type of player—and, immediately, you go to that, like, tall shortstop, massive power. Just, like, you see him do things. You know, like, I can’t believe that there’s a baseball player doing that, and I’m having to play against them. But he was extremely impressive. Really good kid, too. I mean, he was nice, and he, you know, he spoke pretty good English with me. And, you know, I don’t know how young he is; I’m not really familiar with him, but he's a really nice guy.
For us, I mean, as a teammate, honestly, we have, probably, the best team of guys that I’ve ever been with. Braxton Martinez, who’s not, you know, with the Angels anymore, was probably up there with one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever had. But, honestly, Logan O’Hoppe, again, is—he is as good of a dude off the field as, you know, as, like, what you see on the field as a player. I mean, he, to me, is, kind of, like, you know, the Buster Posey mold. You know, like that guy that’s, like, kind of, a quiet leader or whatever. But, like, he’s out there to win.
And, you know, a lot of times in minor-league baseball, you don’t see, like, “We’re here to win.” It’s, like, “Hey, like, I’m here to get my two hits tonight,” and, like, “if we win, we win. If we lose,” like, “Oh well,” you know? Because, like, that’s, kind of, the game that, you know, we’ve been playing.
But Logan is—he’s here to win, and, you know, he’s a leader. And he wants that, like, he wants the game; he wants it on him. And he messes something up, he’ll come up to you and say it, you know? He, like, struck out or something the other day or popped up right around second. And I came up and, like, grounded out. He came up to me. He’s, like, “Sorry, I didn’t get the runner to third.” I was, like, “Logan, like, you didn’t do anything wrong, man.” Like, “It’s just part of the game.” But he, to me, is about as impressive as a young baseball player as I’ve ever seen.
AngelsWin.com: Wow, that’s great. What has been your best game to date? I mean, you can even go back. High school, professional—I know, a few weeks back when I was here, the night before, you had a pretty special night.
Preston Palmeiro: Yeah, that was up there. I mean, I’ve had games where I’ve had, like, big nights. I’ve had 4 for 4’s or, you know, 2 homers, whatever, multiple doubles. I mean, I had a week in Chattanooga, right after the All-Star break, where I was, like, had, like, three straight two-hit games with, like, a couple homers, and three doubles the next day and whatever.
But I think the walk-off home run, for me, is—like, I had a crazy walk-off when I was in college and NC State; we beat Miami in an ACC tournament game. I hit a double off the left field wall, and the left fielder threw the ball away at second. And I was going to second; I was out by about 10 feet— thankfully, he threw it away [laugh]. I kept going to third; the ball got away; they sent me home; I’m safe at home. It was, like, a walk-off inside-the-park, little league-home run thing; it was a joke. It got us in the ACC Championship. That was always, like, my special moment. But that night, hitting that home run, to me, was, kind of, like, that was almost surreal. That one was up there.
AngelsWin.com: That was cool. Besides your dad, who were your favorite players growing up as a kid, or somebody who you, kind of, modeled your game after?
Preston Palmeiro: Ken Griffey, Jr., for me, was, like, it. I just thought, like, the smoothness of his swing; the way he played; I loved Griffey, Jr. I used to try and hit like him, standing straight up; do the whole wag on everything; the one-hand finish. Actually, that night I hit the walk-off home run—there’s, like, a picture somewhere where I, kind of, have the finish, and so that was, kind of, cool to see. But I also love Robbie Alomar growing up. Him and my dad played together in Baltimore, so I love Robbie. That’s, actually, one of the reasons I wear 12. I wore 12 when I was at NC State because that was one of the only numbers available. I picked 12 because of Robbie, and so I wear that here.
And then, actually, you know, kind of, through the early 2000’s, mid-2000’s after my dad was done playing, I was a big Robinson Cano fan and Miguel Cabrera. Just, like, I’ve always been into just the smooth, pure hitting-looking swing where it’s just effortless, you know? Like, now, Jose Ramirez is, kind of, becoming that guy for me where I watch for him[unintelligible 00:11:20] [laugh], “How do you do this, man. Like, you make it look so easy.” But…
AngelsWin.com: Yeah. When you, hopefully, get to the big leagues someday, what’s that one pitcher you want to face? Like, said, “I faced this guy, and I got a hit off him?”
Preston Palmeiro: I want to face Jacob deGrom. I know that people are going, “Why do you want to face Jacob deGrom?” I want to know what it’s like, because, like, I just watched him throw, and I’m, like, “This just looks ridiculous, and I want to see just how ridiculous it actually looks in the box.” Because, like, I know if you get a hit off him, like, great. I mean, you’re not supposed to, right? No one hits him. I think deGrom would be up there; Scherzer; those two guys, maybe Verlander. It’s a crazy group.
AngelsWin.com: two of those guys are teammates—
Preston Palmeiro: Right? Unbelievable—
AngelsWin.com: —frikking insanity.
Preston Palmeiro: —good luck facing that [crosstalk 00:12:03].
AngelsWin.com: Yeah, no doubt. Make it to the big leagues, what’s your walk-up music?
Preston Palmeiro: I don’t know. The song I’m walking up to right now is, like, not the music I listen to at all. It’s called, like, “Narrow Road.” It’s, like, a hard-core-rap song. But I picked it because early in the season—I didn’t even know what I was listening to—but I was, like, “I need something that I’m going to walk up to that, like, people will hear and be, like, ‘Who is this guy—
Preston Palmeiro: —Like, this is not who we think this is at all.’” And so, one of my teammates, Aaron Whitefield, showed me this song. It was, like, this guy who I used to play against with Dodgers, he’s, like—he rakes at every level—and this is his walk-up song. I was, like, boom, “I’m doing that.” And I did it, and that night, I think I was 3 for 4 with a homer and a double. So, if I got called up, I might stick with this song forever because that song, kind of, turned my season around. So—
AngelsWin.com: There you go. [laugh]
Preston Palmeiro: —and that was the song or something else, but I might stick with that. It’s called, “Narrow Road,” by NLE Choppa.
AngelsWin.com: Okay. I’m going to have to check it out. Okay.
Preston Palmeiro: It’s different; it’s different. You’d be, like, “There’s no way this is what he listens to,” but it’s different.
AngelsWin.com: [laugh] Okay, lightning round. The lighter side of things. Favorite movie?
Preston Palmeiro: Favorite movie, Almost Famous.
AngelsWin.com: Okay, good. Favorite baseball movie?
Preston Palmeiro: Bull Durham.
AngelsWin.com: Okay. Favorite song?
Preston Palmeiro: “Tiny Dancer.”
AngelsWin.com: Oh, good song. Video games? Play videos?
Preston Palmeiro: I’m not really a video-game guy. But I guess if I was going to play one, maybe, like, The Golf Video Game. I’m a golf guy. So, I try to play the baseball ones, but then I’m, like, “Man, like, I’m just going home doing what I do during the day.”
AngelsWin.com: [laugh] Exactly. Yeah. What’s a perfect day look like for you away from the ballpark?
Preston Palmeiro: I’m a really big coffee guy. Like, I’m obsessed with coffee; had a teammate get me into it a few years ago. So, I love going to coffee shops in the morning getting a coffee, doing that. And then, honestly, maybe playing some golf and just being outside. Like, a day like today when the weather is just perfect, being outside with my dog and my fiancé, and just, like, maybe eating some pizza and having, like, just, you know, nice night—
AngelsWin.com: Sounds chill.
Preston Palmeiro: Very chill. That’s why. I want a nice, chill day where my brain doesn’t have to do anything.
AngelsWin.com: [laugh] There you go. Some of the guys, like, “I want to go hunting and…
Preston Palmeiro: Yeah, I’m not—I want a nice, easy day.
AngelsWin.com: [laugh] Last question for you. When you’re done playing baseball, what will your next career look like?
Preston Palmeiro: I don’t know; I really don’t. You know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that. Because, especially, like, you’ve got to face the reality of the situation, right, with the longer you play, the older you get, you know, in the big leagues—
AngelsWin.com: Get into coaching; stay in baseball at all you think?
Preston Palmeiro: You know, I thought about it. I don’t know so much about coaching. I have interest in it. I think I could do it and be okay at it. I recently had gotten more interested in maybe a front office side of things. I don’t know if I would be any good at it. You know, I know the game; there’s a lot I know. But I think—I was talking about this with Sean McLaughlin—I think baseball’s getting into a period of time where, I think, the coaching and everything that is going on in the front office side, is going to, kind of, take a big leap. Because you’re starting to get, you know, the guys that are, like, that just played in this era that’s getting introduced to all, maybe, like, the analytic-technology side of it. Whereas, like, maybe some of the baseball people that were coaching in the game before, didn’t really understand it. Now, you’re getting some older guys that are understanding it and know baseball.
And so, I think it’s going to be a better blend of bringing that in, you know, the teams that maybe don’t utilize it as well. So, I think going forward, that’s something that I think that I would be able to do a really good job. But, hopefully, that’s, you know, a little ways down the road, and I get to play some more baseball for a while.
AngelsWin.com: There you go. Absolutely. Well, thanks for meeting with us today, Preston.
Preston Palmeiro: Absolutely. Yeah, sure thing.