When a scout with the New York Yankees contacted Aaron Palensky last Sunday about signing with the famed organization, Palensky took a few days to think about it. Even though he knew what his decision would be, he wanted to take his time. He still had two years of eligibility with Nebraska.
"It's the best route for my baseball career," said Palensky, who began his college career at Southeast Community College. "It's the most renowned team in baseball; they have the most World Series appearances. I can really develop my game there."
"We are happy for him and the opportunities he's going to gain from this," said Dion Parks, SCC Head Baseball Coach. "He's the most mature kid we've ever had. He's a better person than player."
Palensky said when he was a student at Papillion La Vista South High School, SCC was the only college that recruited him. That gave him a chip on his shoulder and made him work that much harder.
"I learned how to grind and overcome adversity," he said. "I'm forever grateful for SCC."
Palensky said there can be a stigma about playing sports at community colleges, but it's not true, and he wants to set the record straight.
"There's amazing baseball in junior college," he said. "There's more opportunities going to a junior college than Division I. More playing time, unlimited time with coaches. In Division I there's only a limited amount of time with the coaches. Junior college is exponentially a great way to improve your game. It opens doors to so many opportunities."
Two of Palensky's older brothers also played at SCC, so he was familiar with the Storm. He knew what he had to do, set a goal, and played the best ball he could. He transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2019 and had a standout season, batting .320 with seven home runs, and he started every game.
Parks has kept in touch with Palensky since he transferred to UNL. He said he's got all the qualities of a big-time player: great hitter, strong work ethic and passion for the game. Plus, Parks said Palensky is an overall high-caliber person.
"He can really hit the baseball," said Parks. "He's the best hitter we've had since I've been at SCC. It's special to watch him hit the ball. His work ethic and the time he spends developing the game, the way he carries himself and his work habits in the weight room. He would play baseball every day if you let him."
Palensky was a star at SCC during his one season of 2018. He played in 58 games and batted .417 with 18 home runs, 77 runs batted in with 72 runs, 24 stolen bases and 43 extra-base hits.
Palensky will sign as a free agent for the Yankee organization and start this fall in Tampa, as long as COVID-19 doesn't affect his plans.
"It's kind of like setting the re-set button, I'll start at the bottom," he said. "I'm hoping to improve physically, mentally, emotionally. My ultimate goal is to make it to the big leagues."
"We're all so proud of him," Parks said. "We're happy for him. He's a great representative of our institution. We can't wait to see what he does in the future."