Gallagher on AFL Work

Sean Gallagher (Photo/InsideTheIvy.com)

In seasons past, Sean Gallagher could more or less be counted on to be in one place for much of the year. All that changed this year when the Cubs pitching prospect made the back-and-forth shuffle from Chicago to the minor leagues.

Gallagher, 21, began the year in Double-A, making 11 starts and going 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 61 innings. From there, the right-hander received his first call-up to Chicago, where he would make eight appearances in four separate call-up's.

In between, he put together a strong showing at Triple-A Iowa, making eight starts and finishing 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 40 2/3 innings.

After closing the year in Chicago following September call-up honors, Gallagher took a few days off to rest and recuperate before preparing for the Arizona Fall League.

He recently talked about the work in Arizona, including the development of his slider, and much more.

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What has your work consisted of in the Fall League thus far?

SEAN GALLAGHER: The Cubs told me they wanted me to come down here and work on a few things; pretty much some things we'd been working on the last couple of months in the big leagues and just putting them together out here to get me some more innings. I think last year I threw well over 160 innings. This year, I only threw about 120, so they wanted me to come here and get in as many innings as I can.

When you talk about the things you'd been working on, what all does that entail aside from the development your slider?

SEAN GALLAGHER: As of right now, I'm actually throwing both of my breaking pitches. I'm back to throwing my curveball again. We decided I should probably keep my curveball instead of getting rid of it for now. I think I pretty much have those two pitches down; it's just working on the mechanical aspect of everything that we were working on in Chicago with Larry (Rothschild).

How rusty, per se, was your curveball once you started throwing it again?

SEAN GALLAGHER: It was definitely a little rusty. I took probably two and a half weeks off, not throwing it at all and just going with the slider. But the curveball has been my pitch for a long time, so I think it'll pick up again really quickly. I've still got it.

Are you pleased with the development of the slider?

SEAN GALLAGHER: It's definitely come a long way since I first started throwing it. When I first started throwing it, it had a big, loopy, almost curveball-like break to it. Now it's actually smaller and tighter.

What reason did the Cubs give you when they asked you to start throwing a slider and put your curveball on the shelf?

SEAN GALLAGHER: I think it was more (to develop) a pitch that could feed off my fastball in the big leagues instead of my curveball, which has a tendency to change my arm slot. They want me to be able to have a pitch that comes out of my arm slot the same and look like my fastball until the last second.

We had assumed that you would be starting in the Fall League. What do you know about your in-game role?

SEAN GALLAGHER: Actually, the way it was explained to me is that the Fall League – remember we have five clubs (per team) here. Each team is given priority spots, which means that two teams can be given two starting pitcher priority spots, and then the rest of the relievers just kind of fall in. You may have a guy that's a priority first baseman or second baseman. Those guys from each organization have to play the majority of the time because those are the guys with the priority (label). The way it was explained to me from (Cubs Director of Player Development) Oneri Fleita was that the Cubs were not giving any priority spots to starting pitchers.

Justin Berg and I were both starters and now we're relievers out here. But I don't think starting and relieving out here is going to become any different than it was because even still, there's pitch counts on all of the starters anyway. They only put them at about three innings and then you have most of your relievers going one or two innings, so I think it's just all about the development stages, being able to throw your pitches and work on a few things.

Are there any worries about not getting enough innings in?

SEAN GALLAGHER: No, I have no worries at all. I'm going to go about my job here and work on the things that I had talked to Larry about, and just get those down perfectly. I want to come up next year and use this pretty much as an evolving step to come into Spring Training and be able to just do my thing and hopefully make the pressure really hard on a lot of people about their decisions on what they want to do with me – whether it be starting or relieving, or going back to Triple-A for whatever option there may be. They may have their five starters from this year come back in Spring Training and be lights out. Well, where does that put me? So I'm just preparing myself for any situation possible. I'm trying to work on the things that are going to make me successful in the big leagues, whether it's starting or relieving. My dream is to start, but if it's relieving up there and I can help this team win, I'm all for it.

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