Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE
#19: Zac Gallen, RHP
6’2”, 191 lbs; R/R; 3 August 1995
Relevant Stats: 9.2 IP, 15 K, 0 BB
So, what’s so great about this guy?
As much as I was not a fan of the Connor Jones pick at the end of the second round this past June, I loved Zac Gallen in the third. Admittedly, the stuff for Gallen doesn’t jump out the same way the radar gun readings do for Jones at his best, but the overall mix of pitches I like significantly more, and more importantly, Gallen is one of those guys who just flat-out knows how to pitch.
The stuff is good, but not overwhelming. Fastball at 90-92, bumping a little higher on occasion. A really nasty cutter he throws to lefties, and tends to lean on a bit too much. A big loopy curve that could be good with more power and conviction, and a changeup that acts like a forkball when he’s on. It’s the way he uses those pitches, and the command with which he throws them, that makes Gallen so intriguing to me.
At his best, Gallen can command three of his offerings — fastball, cutter, and change — to both sides of the plate, and hitters just sort of flail at whatever pitch they guessed on. Even when he’s going well, the curve is more of a show pitch right now, and needs the most work. He works from a very high arm slot, a little like Michael Wacha, and that gives all his pitches good downward angle. The change in particular can look like it’s just falling out of the sky on a good day.
I will say, I don’t love the delivery. I’ve seen worse, but it would really be nice if the Cardinals could find some way to get Gallen’s arm up a little earlier. Maybe it would ruin his deception, maybe it would cost him velocity, and so maybe it isn’t feasible. But I love the potential, and I worry about the injury risk.
There’s also plus athleticism here, which is always a big deal for me with any pitcher. Athletic pitchers tend to repeat their deliveries better, leading to better control/command and just better results in general.
Gallen is another player I think could end up looking like a steal for the Cardinals in a couple years, where they got him in the draft. He’s never going to wow you on first blush with the stuff, but the longer you watch him pitch the more impressive he is.
Player Comp: There’s something about Gallen that puts me in mind a bit of the starter version of Tyler Clippard when Clippard came up with the Yankees, in terms of the way the stuff looks. But going into Cardinal history for a comparable pitcher, Woody Williams comes to mind as a pitcher whose depth of arsenal, and his ability to command the same, was more notable than any single pitch, and who could think his way through a lineup as well as anyone I can remember.