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How Joshua Palacios Turned Underdog Status Into Inspirational Brand

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Joshua Palacios, Pittsburgh Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — Life as a Major League Baseball player is incredibly grueling, but it can also be pretty glamorous.

Life as a minor-leaguer is equally, if not more grueling, and it’s much less glamorous. It’s especially the case if you aren’t a first-round draft pick or a premier international signee.

For Joshua Palacios and his younger brother Richie, they didn’t begin their professional careers with all the fanfare. Not long after their careers started, however, they had an idea.

Back in 2018, Joshua, then a member of the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization and Richie, a prospect with the Cleveland Guardians, created a brand alongside friends Chris Perez and Justin Lopez. The name of the brand? ‘Built Different.’

“Built Different is a brand that me, my brother and my boys put together,” Joshua explained. “We just really wanted to preach a mentality and focus to inspire people that regardless of what you’re going through, against all odds, no matter the situation, you can build yourself into the person you wanna be and create your reality.

“So we are just preaching that message and try and live out the message on top of that. Just keep doing it against all odds, stay focused and don’t complain. Give it everything you got and make it happen.”

Joshua appeared in 91 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season after carving out a significant role down the stretch while on an unlikely path.

The Pirates selected the elder Palacios brother in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft in the 2022-23 offseason. Palacios began the year in Double-A Altoona before being promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis and eventually Pittsburgh.

The underdog status is familiar to Palacios, and it’s also what helped him and his brother start their business. Tired of seeing themselves passed over on endorsement deals as minor leaguers, the Palacios brothers took matters into their own hands.

“It’s something we always wanted to do,” Joshua explained. “It really started because when we were younger in the lower levels (of the minor leagues), everybody was getting endorsements with Nike and Reebok and New Balance and everyone.

“Nobody was coming to us with endorsement deals because we were underdogs and people didn’t really know about us. So we said, ‘If nobody is gonna endorse us, let’s endorse ourselves and start making our own apparel, our own type of stuff and preach our own message.’ So that’s what we did.”

The exact mission of the brand they created is what helped both of the Palacios brothers reach the big leagues, and five years after the inception of their creation, the brothers got to live out another dream.

In August, Joshua and Richie faced each other at PNC Park in a series between the Pirates and Cardinals. Both players had their moments in the spotlight during the series. It’s something neither is ever going to forget.

“That was sick, man. That was a dream come true,” Joshua Palacios said. “I mean sorry to (Johan Oviedo), but I got to watch my brother hit his first homer and that was the only way that could have happened. It sucks it had to happen against us, but I got to witness that. It’s something I’ll get to remember forever … That was a bucket list thing. I’m blessed.”

The sibling rivalry is going to look different in 2024 and beyond. In the offseason, Richie was dealt from the Cardinals to the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead of matching up 12 times against a division opponent, the Palacios brothers will only meet for three games when the Pirates battle the Rays in Pittsburgh from June 21-23.

Until they meet again on the field, the Palacios brothers will continue to motivate and inspire each other and others through the brand they created.

“We started out with a mission and just getting the message out there,” Joshua Palacios said. “On top of that, now we have an Instagram and have been putting out reels and videos. We have some apparel on the side. It’s cool. It is a business, so it’s a little bit of a job, but it’s cool to get my brother and my boys to just be creative and make stuff that we think is fire and that we would wear.”

Players in the big leagues, business partners in the workplace and brothers forever. The Palacios siblings are living out their dreams on every level.

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