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Scouting Report on Sean Gallagher

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  • Scouting Report on Sean Gallagher

    Sean Gallagher
    HT: 6'2
    WT: 225 lbs
    B/T: R/R
    Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Gallagher is shaping up to be one of those draft day steals. Taken in the 12th round of the 2004 amateur draft out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, many teams passed on Sean thinking that he'd fully honor his commitment to Florida International University. But he wanted to be a professional ballplayer "My decision was pretty much made up even before the draft. My dream was to play pro ball. The money was right, and it's a great organization, so I figured, hey it is my dream, this is what I want to do. I figured I might as well do it now and get a head start on some of the other the other kids that come in from college. My mom definitely was the one leaning towards me going to school more, but my dad understood that this is my dream and that I wanted to do it, and she understood too. They pretty much let me make my decision on my own. (Being a pro) has been everything I thought it would be and more. It's unbelievable. It's an experience I wouldn't give up and would never look back on. If I had to do it all again I would. "

    Part of the draft day mayhem on Gallagher was that he was out of town that weekend, visiting his father in Boston. During the first day of the draft, Sean was boarding a plane and since cellphones aren't allowed on commerical flights, he wasn't able to receive calls. On his voice mail were dozens of calls from scouts asking if he would sign. But since no response came from Gallagher, they assumed he was not interested. “Actually the first 30 or so messages were all from other teams saying they wanted to draft me, "Call us back!" But as fate would have it, the Cubs’ scout, Rolando Pino, got ahold of of Gallagher's dad, the only scout having his number, and asked if Sean would sign. Sean's dad replied that he was on a plane and he could not be reached just yet but told Pino of Sean's desire to be a professional baseball player. So the Cubs went out on a limb and used the 366th pick of the draft on Gallagher who pitched against some top high school competition in Florida. The Cubs needed only a small signing bonus, $60,000, to get Gallagher to start his career with the Cubs.

    Since 1990, there are only 23 pitchers who were drafted in the 12th round to actually appear in a big league game. Joel Pineiro, Seattle Mariners, is the only one to establish himself as main rotational pitcher in the MLB. The Cubs are hoping that Gallagher can continue his dominance and work his way into the rotation in the next few years. After Gallagher was drafted, he was quickly signed and reported to camp where the Cubs started him off in rookie league. There he flashed his control, keeping balls on the ground, but a horrible defense allowed many hits that elsewise would have been outs. Immediately, the Cubs organization notched him on their radar and began watching their 12th round find.

    2004 Arizona Cubs (Rookie)

    In 10 games, 9 being starts with a 1-2 record, going 34 2/3 IP giving up 38 hits, 12 earned runs, 0 hrs, 11 bb, 44 k, 3.12 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .267 BAA

    The organization thought greatly of the effort that Gallagher put forth in the Rookie League but were still going to start him in Boise to begin the 2005 season, and slowly advance him as they do with most of their young arms now. But due to injuries, the Cubs called upon Gallagher to skip short season A ball and begin the year with Peoria (Low A) in the Midwest League. And boy what a year it would be. He started the year off amazingly. He set a new club record for innings without giving up an earned run in 40-1/3, having the streak snapped when giving up a a solo home run to Beloit’s Deacon Burns. Falling just four outs shy of the Midwest League record. Still he had a great year that ended with him not only being named to the Midseason and Postseason All-Star team, but being named the Midwest Pitcher of the Year and later the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year; the Cubs rewarded his great season by even giving him a late season start in Daytona. He led Midwest league in win (14), was second in ERA (2.71), second in WHIP (1.11), and fourth in K (139) and started a no-hitter on April 20th, 2005.

    2005 Peoria Chiefs (Low-A)

    In 26 starts, he went 14-5, going 146 IP giving up 107 hits, 44 earned runs, 10 hrs, 55 bb, 139 k, 2.71 ERA, 1.11 ERA, .196 BAA

    2005 Daytona Cubs (High-A)

    In 1 start, no record, going 5 IP, 6 hits, 1 earned run, 1 hr, 0 bb, 7 k, 1.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .286 BAA

    Looking towards the 2006 season, Gallagher is really looking forward to pitching in the Florida State League, as he's from the area. "That would be amazing. I love Florida. I miss it. Being in Daytona would mean that my home in Fort Lauderdale wouldn't be that far away. I could have family and friends come up and watch me play. The weather down there is beautiful. It's just amazing. Nothing gets better than the Florida State League is what I've heard so far." Gallagher is right, the weather is amazing. That is until it hits mid June, then it's Hurricane season and anything goes, it's be in the upper 80's then all of a sudden it'll be terrential downpour and hard winds for days. Gallagher was definately put into a weather shock this past season for the Peoria Chiefs, as there was a stretch were Sean pitched in multiple sub 40 degree weather games. "I'm definitely learning how to adjust to cold. We have to deal with that here. We were up in Grand Rapids playing West Michigan last week and actually got snowed out of our first two games up there. That was something that has never happened to me before in my life." If Sean expects to pitch in Chicago one day then he better get acclimated to the cold temperatures in the early months as a 50 degree day in April at Wrigley is considered a heatwave.

    2006 Daytona Cubs (High-A)

    In 3 starts, he has a 1-0 record, going 19 IP, giving up 14 hits, 1 earned run, 1 hr, 2 bb, 22 K, 0.47 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, .197 BAA (as 4/20/06)

    His first start was against Brevard County (Brewers) on 4/7, where he went 6 IP giving up 5 hits, 1 bb, 8 k. Throwing 89 pitches, 58 for strikes, 31 balls; inducing 7 ground outs and 2 flyouts. In his next start on the 12th of April against St. Lucie (Mets), he got entangled into a pitchers duel with Cuban defector Alay Soler. Neither pitcher figured into the decision but Gallagher lasted longer and was more impressive. In 6 IP, he gave up 6 hits (all singles), 0 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, while throwing 91 pitches for 55 strikes, 36 balls; and getting 11 groundouts and 1 flyout. In this third start on the 18th of April against St. Lucie, Sean got the win by going 7 IP giving up 3 hits, 1 earned run, 0 bb, 1 hr, and 10 k. Throwing 90 pitches, 68 strikes, 22 balls; inducing 5 ground outs and 7 flyouts.

    Pitching: Gallagher is a fearless pitcher, he's not afraid to pitch inside like many young pitchers are. Also, he has an extensive repoirtore, featuring a diving sinking fastball which is typically around 89-91 mph and that induces many groundballs. Additionally, he has a great snapping curveball, which the Cubs personnel rate as one of the best in the entire system. That is great praise considering other guys' hammers like Marshall and Hill in the organization. To accompany that one-two punch, Gallagher works in a rising fastball that reaches 92-94 mph, a straight change, and a slider that he had some monster success with last year. Not only does Sean feature an extensive arsenal but he demonstrates excellent control of his sinker, curve and now slider. He throws the rising fastball and changeup when he needs to. Last year his K:BB rate was 2.65:1, he also had a 3.28 BB/9 and 8.70 K/9.

    Durability: Gallagher had no problem going deep into ballgames last year, notching the fourth most innings in the Cubs' system with 151 trailing Ryu (169 2/3), Nolasco (161 2/3) and Estrada (151 1/3). Figure in he had 27 starts and he averaged 5.59 IP per start, not bad, not bad at all for a 19 year old. Especially for a kid who was taken out of high school in 2004, and had never thrown more than 100 IP in a single calander year during his career and was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League. His motion is very fluid, which usually helps keep shoulder and arm injuries in check yet nothing is guarenteed. The 2006 season will be a very good test of where Gallagher stands, if he's able to put up good numbers again and stay healthy he could see a climb up the ladder later in the year and huge jump in 2007.

    Biggest Strength: For being as young as he is, Gallagher knows how to pitch better than most college aged pitchers and he doesn't get rattled easy at all. He has knack for mixing up his approach to hitters; he almost never starts a hitter out the same way twice in a game. That's good because Gallagher doesn't have ace caliber stuff, instead he relies on his top tier makeup. That combination is what frustrates hitters so much when they face Sean. He doesn't have wicked stuff, he's not going to blow you away with heat, but he knows where to put the ball and when to put it there. So much so, when hitters see that 89 mph sinker in the zone, it's enticing to swing at, but that pitch quickly dips, and that's where alot of the groundouts come from. As long as Gallagher keeps making hitters guess, and hitting his spots, he should be golden.

    Biggest Weakness: The qualities that make Gallagher such a smart pitcher, command and poise, come back to bite him at least in the scouting circuits. Gallagher doesn't have a high octane fastball or amazing stuff, and old school scouts look at that more than they do numbers. The lack of respect that Gallagher gets can be seen by his exclusion on the Cubs Top 10 Prospects. Because in times of trouble, which has been rare in Sean's short professional career, he has little to fall back on other than his command. Of his assortment of pitches, he only has two that rank as above average pitches; his sinker and his curve. His other pitches are all slightly below average; rising fastball, straight change, and slider. But he has made tremendous strides with the slider, so much to the point that it should be considered weapon. And his change and riser will likely be plus pitches by the time he reaches the MLB. There is current belief in the scouting world that Gallagher will start to fizzle as he's exposed to the higher level talents of AA and AAA, where hitters are more disciplined and are closer to being MLB ready, it happens often.

    Keys to Success: It seems like a no brainer but staying healthy is key to Gallagher's climb up the Cubs' organizational ladder. For a 19 year old kid to throw 150 innings on a professional level is alot of work on an arm. Especially for a kid who's never thrown more than 100 innings in a season. In addition to staying healthy, Gallagher needs to continue to build up his size, naturally he'll become bigger and stronger in the next 3 years. Over the course of this last year, Sean has added an additional 15 pounds and an inch, increasing his weight from 210 to 225. And the rule of thumb, is an additional 15 lbs of muscle will increase velocity by an additional 1-2 mph. In all likelihood, he's still not done growing and could end up 6'3 - 6'4 and 240lbs. That will give him a larger velocity variance in his pitches which can only make him more dangerous; a smart pitcher that can throw hard.

    MLB Comparison: Jake Peavy

    Peavy, like Gallagher, was drafted out high school later in the draft (15th round). Their stuff and arsenal is similiar in that they both rely on their sinker and curveball and are control pitchers especially at age 20. And what often keeps coming up, was that Peavy was never suppose to be this good... Coming out of high school, scouts didn't like his mild velocity and reliance on his sinker/curveball, thus his availability in the 15th round. Yet here today, Jake is in his 5th season with the San Diego Padres and he doesn't turn 25 until the end of May. The last two years, he's been among league leaders in ERA and WHIP and has built up quite a following on the West Coast. Over the past five years, Peavy has also drastically increased his velocity and improved his secondary pitches, due to natural development and growth, something that Gallagher can look forward to as well. What helped shoot Peavy through the Padres' minors was his poise on the mound, command of the strikezone, and dominance at the low levels, plus SD's need for a starting pitcher. That all helped Jake make his MLB debut in mid 2002 after owning AA that season. Gallagher has many of the intangibles of Peavy and with continued growth and development, his velocity and stuff will improve. For a comparision, lets look at the 19 year old Peavy against Gallagher's 2005 season. Both pitchers threw either the whole season or part of the season in the Midwest League (Low A):

    Player Year W L G GS IP H ER HR BB SO H/9 W/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
    Peavy 2000 13 8 26 25 133.1 107 43 6 53 164 7.22 3.58 11.07 2.90 1.20
    Gallagher 2005 14 5 26 26 146 107 44 10 55 139 6.60 3.39 8.57 2.71 1.11

    Bob's Bottom Line: The Cubs are in no hurry to push Gallagher up to levels where he doesn't belong. Only problem with that is Gallagher is pitching like he was a top round draft pick, and the Cubs are starting to treat him accordingly. Chicago is not in dire straights that they need Gallagher up as soon as possible, but if Sean keeps pitching like he he did last year for Peoria and how he's throwing now for Daytona, then there is an outside chance that we will Gallagher get a late season callup in 2007. And at the very least will challenge for spot on the Cubs' pitching staff in 2008 either as a long man or a 4/5 spot in the rotation. Give Gallagher another four or five years and he very well could be leading the Cubs' rotation.
    What a Batted Ball is Worth (in terms of a run):
    Line Drive: .356
    HBP: .342
    Non-Intentional Walk: .315
    Intentional Walk: .176
    Outfield Fly: .035
    Groundball: -.101
    Bunts: -.103
    Infield Fly: -.243
    Strikeout: -.287
    It's now officially Doctor Bob Sacamento, D.C., C.S.C.S., and working on my D.A.B.C.O. (Diplomate American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics)

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