Versatile sophomore Mikey Palagano enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2012 to capture Times-Georgian Newcomer of the Year honors — and VR coach Jay Sneddon is excited to know that Palagano’s best days are still ahead of him.
Palagano wore several different hats for the Cats this spring, playing the outfield, first base and also serving as one of the team’s top hurlers.
“We kind of moved him around. He’s very versatile. He could probably play every position in the field if I needed him to. He begs me a lot of times to play other places. I’m not sure where he’s going to ultimately end up, but wherever it is, he’s going to do a good job there,” Sneddon said.
On the hill, the tall right-hander went 4-2 with a 3.72 E.R.A. in 26 innings of work, while he hit .340 at the plate with five doubles, 17 runs scored and 20 RBI en route to all-region honors in 5-AAAA.
Palagano said it was a special season to be a part of with the Wildcats’ return to the playoffs, where they fell to the two-time defending state champs — Marist — in the opening round in three games.
“It was real special. You know, it was kind of scary for me because it was my first time ever going in,” Palagano said. “They were a tough team and we played our hardest against them. They were really good. Their defense was really good. I guess they just got us that time.”
And though just a sophomore, Sneddon said Palagano handled pressure situations with the confidence and calmness of an upperclassmen that had been there before.
“He came up big. Just a sophomore and he was in some clutch games. I know late in the year, he came up big for us in big games that meant a lot. He wasn’t just filling innings for us, he was one of the main starters and next year he’s going to step back in that role and be a 1-2 punch for us hopefully,” Sneddon said.
Palagano has already taken on a leadership role heading into his junior season, leading the younger players by example on and off the field.
“Just the way he carries himself on the field, he doesn’t have to say a word. But the kids watch him, and he’s a great example for our program,” Sneddon said.
The Cats are moving up to Class AAAAA next season, and it’s a challenge Palagano said they are looking forward to.
“We’re excited for it. We’re ready to play different teams and are ready to move on,” Palagano said.
Sneddon credited Palagano’s work ethic and dedication in the offseason to his stellar sophomore year and is hopeful of seeing even bigger and better things over the next two years.
“Mikey had a great year. He worked hard up to that point to get ready for this season. Last summer he played varsity and JV, so he got about 55 games under his belt last summer, which translated into a great sophomore season playing at the varsity level,” Sneddon said.
“He’s the perfect example of a kid that comes to the ballpark every day ready to play. Good, bad or ugly, he’s still trying his best the whole time.”
And after getting a taste of the postseason this spring, Palagano and the Cats are licking their chops for more.
“Yeah, we are. We really want to get back,” Palagano said.