Inside The Ivy Names 2005 Pitcher of the Year

Each year, Inside The Ivy recognizes good performance in the Cubs' farm system by naming one position and pitching prospect that excelled throughout the past season. This year, we've selected right-hander Sean Gallagher as our 2005 Pitching Prospect of the Year. Inside, an interview with Gallagher.

Sean Gallagher took the Cubs' farm system by storm this season, tying Ricky Nolasco for the the organizational lead in wins with 14 during the regular season, and posting a 2.71 ERA in 26 starts at Class-A Peoria of the Midwest League.

At age 19, this was Gallagher's first full season of professional ball. He was selected in the 12th round of the 2004 draft from St. Thomas Aquinas HS in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and appeared in 10 games for the Arizona League's Mesa Cubs later that year, posting a 3.12 ERA with 44 strikeouts to 11 walks and 34.2 innings.

This year at Peoria, Gallagher did not allow an earned run through his first six starts. In a start against Cedar Rapids on April 20, he began a combined no-hitter and struck out eight Kernel hitters in six innings. Gallagher also struck out a season-high 10 batters in three separate starts, and went five innings or more in 22 of his 26 starts. For most of the season, he led the Midwest League in ERA and would go on to finish the year with the best ERA in the Cubs farm system.

Late in the year, Gallagher's mechanics supposedly got into a bit of a funk before the right-hander got things squared away in time to earn a late-season promotion to Class High-A Daytona. He made one start at Daytona, allowing one run in five innings.

The following is an interview conducted with Gallagher in recent days.

Inside The Ivy: Congratulations on a fine, outstanding season. You finished tied atop the farm system in wins.

Sean Gallagher: Thank you. The whole season put together, it's just a great thing. I just have to keep all this up.

Inside The Ivy: How would you sum it all up, the season you had?

Sean Gallagher: It was a great learning experience. I learned a lot from all of my teammates and coaches, just by going through my first full year in the organization. Your teammates become your best friends and you definitely learn a lot about the game, your friends and yourself.

Inside The Ivy: From a pitching-only perspective, define what you mean by "learning experience."

Sean Gallagher: It was about learning how to pitch and how to set up hitters, the development of your pitches, how important they are, and getting every pitch to work.

Inside The Ivy: Nathan Baliva (Peoria broadcaster) said your mechanics got into a bit of a funk late in the year. How did you work your way past that?

Sean Gallagher: I just went back to basics. One of the things Lester Strode (Pitching Coordinator) asked when I signed last year was, "How long each day do you work on your mechanics?" He said the best thing I could do is to work on them in front of a mirror where I could see myself. I got out of the funk by doing what he suggested and corrected myself that way.

Inside The Ivy: Was it a surprise getting the call-up to Daytona?

Sean Gallagher: I figured I would be in one place the entire year. It was just the feeling I got. Daytona was in the middle of trying to get into the playoffs, so they called me and tried to make a push. Obviously, we fell short and I only made one start, but I learned a lot while I was there.

Inside The Ivy: What did you learn specifically?

Sean Gallagher: You definitely can't get away with as many mistakes. For example, the first hit I gave up at Daytona was a home run. In Peoria, it would have been a groundball out. The hitters were more patient. You also learn the importance of placing your pitches, working on your control and executing each pitch.

Inside The Ivy: Now let's look ahead to the offseason. Anything planned?

Sean Gallagher: I haven't been told anything about instructional ball yet. I think I'm just going to rest. I'm going back to my trainer that I went to last year and will begin working out. His name is Tony Milian of Memorial Hospital West Fitness & Rehabilitation Center here in Florida. They have a big fitness center and they've also hired a lot of big league players to help out. Me and a few other minor leaguers around this area, plus a few of the Florida Marlins' big league guys, all come together and work out.

Inside The Ivy: Congratulations again on a fine year. Enjoy your offseason and we'll catch up with you later.

Sean Gallagher: Thank you so much.

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