Feature photo of Miguel Amaya by Rich Biesterfeld
On this week’s episode with Greg Huss and Bryan Smith:
The guys spend the question answering one question for 13 players… Are you higher on Player X than you were before the season?
Listen to find out what they had to say about Matt Mervis, Yonathan Perlaza, Miguel Amaya, Pablo Aliendo, Haydn McGeary, Moises Ballesteros, Jefferson Encarnacion, Riley Thompson, Ben Brown, Bailey Horn, Brandon Birdsell, Richard Gallardo, and Luke Little.
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Lub you guys but you’re way off on Gallardo (still). He’s already hitting 97-98 this year in cold weather starts, 6% BB rate, GBs, multiple years younger (age 21) than guys like Birdsell (age 23) you’re praising for same velo at the same level…could keep going too but there’s lots of season left
That said, I would agree that I haven’t moved from last year. He’s still the best bet to be a high volume ace in the org
Jeff, I applaud the commitment, but the reason that we’re not very high on Gallardo is that even with added velocity he doesn’t generate whiffs. He may need an entire arsenal overhaul. The curveball looks fine at his level but it’s not likely a viable offering against advanced competition. The slider is about average. The fastballs have velo but poor movement. Really bad even. And he’s been in the organization for years so it’s not like coming in and exposing him to pro instruction or R&D is an immediate fix. He has age on his side and we all want him to succeed. That would be a good thing for the Cubs organization. It’s just that until there are very significant changes he’s a guy that you’re just hoping can have success despite the stuff not being there. Again, you absolutely should keep rooting for Gallardo. We all do, it’s just we’re far less optimistic about his future projection for those reasons. Hope he flips the script. That would be fun.
Greg, coincidentally he just came off a start with a CSW% near 33% and a 25% whiff rate on the changeup and 40+% CSW on the breaking stuff . The whiffs are a’comin’ and there’s more velo in the tank. He’s been in the org for years and has done much with it. He’s been among the few youngest full season SPs in *any* org to open on a full roster for both 2021 and 2022, leads the org in IP since then, is *still* the second youngest SP full season ball (Arias a level below, he’s actually younger than Horton by a couple weeks). Notably the Cubs bumped him up to close his age 20 season with a AA start already (in which he K’d 6 on a 28% CSW and 18% whiffs on the FB). I submit his stuff is no worse and likely both better and more likely to improve than more ballyhooed guys with prettier surface stats (less so under the hood) in the low minors like Franklin (in his case prettier stats is stat, just Ks and not to like an elite level or anything), Hodge, Devers (way better stuff), etc: older arms who need/needed to chase low minors Ks more to stay in the prospect game at all and likely as non or low impact starters in the long run
End of the day this is a big, healthy pitcher who throws lots of strikes, makes lots of starts, and throws lots of innings against older competition while consistently adding velo and pitches in pro ball. The competition currently within the org are older, mostly at the same level or lower somehow, throw fewer innings, don’t throw as many strikes against the level, bring similar if not less velo (certainly in the context that most aren’t throwing the same workloads and ages), and so on
We said really positive things about Gallardo in this episode. Went out of our way to do so, in fact.
Eeeeh, yes and no:
– Performance basically reduced to “not enough whiffs” and, while I 100% that’s huge and has to happen to get where he’s headed, it’s more the final frontier for this pitcher and they’re common enough to not hit any panic button. As we’re seeing with Porter Hodge, lots of lower minors Ks these days doesn’t automatically mean lots of upper minors Ks (even Herz went from 38% to 26%) nor quick success.
– I lub AZPhil too, but that same year he made the conditioning and reliever comments Gallardo went on to win an OD SP job (one of a few 19 YOs to do so in any org) and finish top 10 in IP for both league and org. Either that year or 2019 when he was one a few 17 YOs playing pro games stateside, among the top IP guys in that demo too of course, and got promoted. Both work. That conditioning thing was mentioned often but really it’s most that top SPs are massive dudes (like 215+ easy) and he’s a big guy, and IIRC FGs commented years ago that he’s considered by a gym rat within the org. The conditioning thing really does bug me because it’s not particularly well sourced for what it is, doesn’t really play with anything that’s actually happened, but has survived
– You did mention bumping him up to AA, which is nice, but in the context that it’ll prove that he’s actually not good. I get it, was saying Hodge and Herz would be much more exposed in AA in a different spirit, but also there’s no rush to do anything until he starts missing more bats (maybe makes a start in something other than 40something degree weather) and certainly not to fail. It’s easy to forget that he’d be a perfectly fine 22 if AA didn’t happen this year
– Brandon Birdsell, age 23 in High A, got praised for mid-90s velo in the cold topping 97. Gallardo’s velo got cut (no mention of peak 97-98, announced by the broadcast) and kind of downplayed the mid-90’s velo as like yeah OK there’s 95s…I get it, I do it too with prospects I don’t believe in, but also you might see how one got treated different than the other. Thing is too that Birdsell’s (who I like in like a Brad Peacock kind of way sure) only got 13 Ks in 15.2 IP in High A at 23 coming out of the SEC…
This is player development in the post-pandemic era! It’s not pretty, mostly non-linear (see Dansby Swanson or even Riley Thompson) if you’re looking for the mass appeal stuff every step of the way….I 100% agree he has to miss more bats and all my words won’t change that! Keep it up!
I say that as someone on the SP wagon for:
Wicks – Right with Gallardo as the best SP prospect in the org rn but different style, not as high as ceiling overall