Gallagher Goes to the M's

Proving once again that the MLB Draft is full of surprises, Stanford junior RHP Nolan Gallagher (5-6, 7.27 ERA) was taken in the fourth round yesterday by the Seattle Mariners. The 6'3" righty from Red Lodge (Mont.) had a terribly disappointing season, and his draft stock took a big hit. One can imagine his obvious excitement when he talked with us yesterday shortly after being taken #135 overall.

Drafted in the fourth round today - is this what you expected to happen?

"It's one of those things where I tried not to expect anything.  You don't know what is going to happen.  It's a lot of sitting and waiting and wanting and wishing.  I tried to relax as much as I can.  But I'm excited.  I'm very excited about the ballclub that picked me.  I'm glad to be a part of that organization.  There wasn't a lot of expectation, and I was just hoping that my name was going to be called.  I saw that come up on the board, and nothing but joy hit me."

Is there any element of surprise with it being the Seattle Mariners?  What things have been going on between you and them leading up to today?

"Actually, I had heard some rumors.  We had talked to them, and I knew their scouting director saw me over the summer.  They really liked what they saw.  It's pretty awesome to see a team pick me with the confidence after I struggled this year.  To see a team back me up, pick me and have the confidence making that selection meant a lot to me.  I'd like to give that back to that organization."

I know it's been less than an hour since your selection, but have you been on the phone with anybody from Seattle yet?

"Yes.  I've actually just talked to the area scout, who I think is based in California.  He called me and basically said, 'Yay.'  I have my finals coming up, and he said, 'I'll let you relax a little.'  But he's going to talk to me over the next couple of days about where I'm going to be going and the paperwork type of stuff.  He said, 'Just enjoy it.  We picked you, and enjoy the moment.'"

You started to talk about this, but to not have the season anywhere close to your capabilities and still be picked in the fourth round - a very high selection.  How do you react to that?

"The season was disappointing and didn't turn out, from a team aspect and from an individual aspect, to what we would have liked.  It means a lot to me to see an organization back me up and have that confidence in me to pick me in that round.  To see a team say, 'Hey, we still think you've got it.  We're willing to take a risk on you,' personally that meant a lot to me.  That's what I was hoping for.  That was awesome to see.  Something I want to prove this summer and prove for the next five years: 'You didn't make a mistake at all.  I'm going to back up the confidence you had in me and show you that you made a great decision.'  It's great to see somebody have the confidence in you and back you up like that."

You commented that this selection may stem from Seattle watching you last summer.  What did you do last summer well that was maybe divergent from how you were pitching this Stanford season?

"I think the big thing was that I wasn't doing the little things of pitching well, such as getting ahead in counts.  I walked too many guys and gave up a few too many free bases.  One of the things that I was able to do well during the summer was get outs early with my fastball, or get ahead.  That's something I didn't do really well during the season.  I was pitching a lot of 2-1 counts, 2-0 counts or 3-1 counts.  It's easy to hit there.  Especially with a metal bat in your hands and the conference that we're in, it's easy to hit.  That's something I just did better over the summer, and I'm looking forward to getting back to doing.  I had stints of it, and I was better at it last year than this year.  But I know it's in there.  It's the small things."

"My stuff, from a velocity standpoint and the sharpness of my curveball, was pretty happy with all year.  I think that's why this team has liked me.  But I think it's just the small things I did really well over the summer that I just have to get back to.  It's not a secret; it's just what you have to do to pitch well and succeed."

I can hear your excitement about Seattle taking you and taking you this high, like you said, backing you up.  It sounds like there is not much mystery, and you'll be signing?  You're moving ahead into pro baseball?

"I haven't completely made up my mind, and it's something where I need to talk over with my family.  After finals, I'm going to be able to relax and think about it a little more.  But I don't see any problems.  I think for the most part that I'm going to be playing with them this summer, and I think everything is going to turn out well."

I'm sure you haven't talked money with Seattle yet, but you don't anticipate that being a problem?


Did you go into this draft and today thinking that somebody for certain would take you in a position where you could move on to pro baseball, or was this a really pleasant surprise to be taken in the fourth round?

"I didn't know exactly what was going to happen.  With my situation and the year I had, you don't really know what is going to happen because you don't know if a ballclub is going to step up and pick you or not.  It was something I was going to assess after it happened.  Like I said, that's something I'm going to have to think about a little more.  For the most part, I was trying to relax.  Whatever happened, happened.  We were going to think about it afterward.  I definitely didn't have my mind set whether I was going to come back here to Stanford or not, whether I was going to play summer ball and whatnot.  I was kind of playing this by ear.  It was kind of a nervous and uneasy feeling because you don't know what is going to end up happening.  But I'm pleased to have been picked where I was."

Stepping back a little bit, what do you think contributed to your having a hard time pitching this year, and what happened to the entire Stanford team that related to that?

"Sometimes, you don't really know what happens.  I don't know exactly.  If I had known, I would have fixed it.  It's one of those things where I don't know if it had anything to do with over the summer I was pitching every fifth day, as opposed to here, you have to wait a week.  Sometimes when you get into a reliever's role, you don't know what's going to happen.  I don't know if it was that.  I'm not going to make the excuse and say that, but I noticed over the summer, it's really easy to get in a groove when you're throwing every fifth day.  You have the confidence facing wood bats, though you're still facing great hitters out there.  I can't really pinpoint what exactly went wrong and why it went wrong, or else I would have tried to fix it."

"But I know as a team, when you start to struggle as a team, it's hard to nip in the bud and fix it.  That's something we didn't do well as a whole staff this year.  That's kind of disappointing.  I wish we had done a better job of that.  These guys will be back.  Whether I will be back here or not, I know there is a lot of character on the pitching staff, so I'm not too worried about it.  The year didn't go as planned, but these guys will come back and figure it out.  And they'll be better next year."

Last question, where are you on your graduation track?

"I'm actually a quarter away.  After next fall, I'll be graduated."

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