A Gallen of Talent: Miami Marlins Ace-in-the-Hole

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Zac Gallen #84 of the Miami Marlins poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 22, 2018 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Zac Gallen #84 of the Miami Marlins poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 22, 2018 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Zac Gallen spun another gem for the New Orleans Baby Cakes on Wednesday night.

Zac Gallen lasted for seven innings, the fourth time in seven games that he’s pitched at least seven frames. He has six Quality Starts to show for it, only missing the seventh by one out on April 17th, in a game that Gallen actually won.

The 6’2″ right hander from Gibbsboro, NJ was New Orleans’ Opening Day starter at the triple-A level in 2019, and is now 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA. He’s struck out 55 in 47 1/3 innings, while allowing 19 hits and eight walks. That’s a 0.570 WHIP in a not-small sample size for those of you without a calculator. Pacific Coast League opponents have managed an anemic .121 average when lining up against him in the batters box. Every one of these statistics lead the PCL and the triple-A level by a wide margin.

Remember, the triple-A level facing up against Gallen are mostly players either with major league experience or players who are MLB-bound. He’s putting these numbers up against next-to-top-level talent. How does his success thus far translate at the major league level?

Miami Marlins
JUPITER, FL – FEBRUARY 22: Zac Gallen #84 of the Miami Marlins poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 22, 2018 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Gallen’s a big reason that the Baby Cakes, who were 69-70 last season, now sit at 18-15, just a game-and-a-half behind the PCL American Southern Division leading Round Rock Express. This season, he’s already been named the PCL Pitcher of the Week twice.

Gallen was initially a third round choice of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2016 MLB Amateur Entry Draft. Earlier in the same round, current Marlins top-30 prospects Thomas Jones and Bryson Brigman (Seattle Mariners) were chosen. If Gallen soon makes the majors, he’ll be the fourth from that round of the draft to make it so far.

Taken 106th overall, Gallen shares the distinction with Hall-of-Famer Tim Raines and 176-game winner RHP Dave Stieb. Gallen will undoubtedly be the 14th player taken 106th to make his major league debut.

After his six-game professional debut at the rookie level to close out 2016, Gallen graduated to higher levels of St. Louis’ minor league system. He split 2017 at their top three levels of play, going 10-8 with a 2.93 ERA. His efforts caught the eye of the Miami Marlins scouting department, who asked for him in the Marcell Ozuna deal following 2017.

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The more highly-regarded Sandy Alcantara was the centerpiece of the Ozuna trade, and has started 13 games at the major league level since, with middling results. Speedy outfielder Magneuris Sierra and left-hander Daniel Castano also came over from the Cards.

Although not exactly an afterthought, Gallen’s addition to the trade was less heralded than was the addition of Alcantara. Alcantara is currently the worst performing Miami Marlins pitcher at the major league level, by percentage points behind Jose Urena, and Gallen is putting up the best numbers not just in New Orleans, not just in the PCL, not just in triple-A, but in all of minor league baseball. Urena is out of options, but Alcantara is not. It may do Alcantara some good to get some more practice at triple-A and promote Gallen to the majors.

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