The Chicago Cubs don’t lack what many think are top prospects and another one of them is Sean Gallagher. He was drafted in the 2004 draft in the 12th round out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Depending on who you listen to Gallagher is projected as high as a top three prospect of the Cubs at the age of 21. What shows that Gallagher might be a gem in the Cubs system is that many compare him to Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres. He was planning to attend Florida International so many of the teams that were interested in him passed. Another part of the problem was that on the day of the draft, Gallagher was out of town visiting his father in Boston. He only had a cell phone and wasn’t able to get phone calls on the plane. Many teams tried to call him to see if he would sign, if picked, and when he didn’t call them back immediately, they didn’t pick him. The Cubs scout, Rolando Pino, was able to get a hold of Gallagher’s dad, since he had his number, and learned that Gallagher was very interested in playing professional baseball. The Cubs took a chance on him and were able to sign him. It took some luck on the Cubs part to get him that late but it could turn out to be a great day for the Cubs if he continues his move up the farm system.
Gallagher has spent three years in the Cubs minor league system and has done well thus far. In 2004, he started in the rookie league and in 10 games, including 9 starts he compiled a 1-2 record, a 3.12 ERA, 44 K’s and 11 walks. In 2005, he impressed as he started the season in Peoria where he appeared in 26 games, all starts, and compiled a 14-5 record, an ERA of 2.71, 139 K’s and 55 walks. It was a great season for Gallagher and he showed the promise the Cubs originally saw in him. During last season he split time between Daytona and West Tennessee. He started in Daytona and appeared in 13 games, going 4-0, with an ERA of 2.30, 80 K’s and 21 walks. He was then moved up to West Tennessee where he appeared in 15 games, going 7-5, with an ERA of 2.71, 91 K’s and 55 walks.
Gallagher has the skills needed to make it to the major leagues and stay there. He has a pitch that would work well in Wrigley Field, a fastball that dives down at around 90 MPH and induces a lot of ground balls. He also has a great curveball which many of the Cubs personnel say is one of the best in their entire system. He adds to that a rising fastball that hits up to 94 MPH, a straight changeup and a slider. For a young guy he has a lot of pitches and he knows how to throw them all well and with good control.
Gallagher has his work cutout for him as he continues on his trek to make the big club. Since 1990, only 23 pitchers drafted in the 12th round have made it to the major leagues. Of those, only Joel Pineiro made it into a rotation on a regular basis. This means that Gallagher’s odds are against him making it all the way but he seems to have the talent to get there. With the large repertoire of pitches and the control he exhibits he should get close, if not make it to Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have a great deal of talented pitching in the minor leagues and with only five spots available in the rotation he could be traded before he gets close. That is always a possibility because the Cubs have some guys in the majors that if healthy aren’t going anywhere. Either way, they are moving him up slowly and there is a chance he could start at Iowa this year. There are many people in his way but if he continues to impress he could get a chance to prove he belongs sometime in 2008 or 2009. There are a lot of pitchers with major league experience on the Cubs 40-man roster so if he isn’t traded, he could gain a lot of experience in the minor leagues. If he turns out to be a special player the Cubs will certainly find a spot for him. If he does make it to Iowa and you are near Des Moines, it might be worth your time to go see him pitch. I live a few hours away so I might have to make the journey myself, to see how special this kid is.
For more of Thomas’ views on the Cubs, visit www.cubsfanhell.com