Post-season Q&A: Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher has been a rising pitching prospect in the Cubs' farm system almost from the moment he stepped foot onto the mound a season ago at Class-A Peoria. Poised for a new challenge and a new league in 2006, the 20-year-old right-hander would not disappoint.

Gallagher began the year at Class High-A Daytona and went 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 13 starts before being moved up to Double-A in June. At West Tenn, he made 15 starts and finished 7-5 with a 2.71 ERA, logging almost 165 innings between there and Daytona.

Inside The Ivy: At the higher levels, we hear so much about the purported "sophomore jinx." Does that apply at the levels you were at this year?

Sean Gallagher: I don't really believe it does. I go out and pitch my game every day and try to get better with everything I do. I think a sophomore jinx is almost like a comfort level. You may think you have it, like it's almost given to you, but I've heard from a lot of guys who know this game doesn't come easily. You have to do your hardest and work every day to the best of your ability. I don't believe in a jinx and I don't think I'll ever go through it because I'll never be satisfied with myself.

Inside The Ivy: Realistically, how far away do you see yourself from the major leagues?

Sean Gallagher: Hearing some things that are floating around the system and talking to coaches and even some players, it possibly could happen some time next year. You see what's going on up there. They're looking for players to come up and step up big, and establish themselves at that level. That's what I'm working on and won't stop until I get to that level. Coming into next year, maybe I'll get a big league invite to Spring Training. If not, I'll go back down. Whether I start out at Double-A or Triple-A, I'm going to work my butt off and try to get there as quick as I can.

Inside The Ivy: A couple of your teammates and/or fellow prospects, Carlos Marmol and Juan Mateo, got called up directly from Double-A to the big league team. Although Marmol's promotion kind of coincided with yours, did it bother you any not to get the same bump up?

Sean Gallagher: No, not really at all. It's not up to me. All I can do is go out and prove I can handle this and that I can do this at a successful rate. Whenever they feel like I'm ready and want to call me up and move me to another level, they'll do it. I was more than happy playing with any team I was on.

Inside The Ivy: What level do you see yourself at going into next Spring?

Sean Gallagher: My goal within myself right now is that I'm hoping I do get a big league invite to Spring Training. I'd love to go in there and show the coaches my ability. I'd love to show them I'm ready for the next level and can be there and perform. Obviously, they're going to have their minds made up. If they want me there, they'll have me there. If not, I could see myself going to Triple-A. Even if they send me back to Double-A, I had a great year there this year, but there are definitely some things I could work on a lot more. It's up to them. It's what they want to choose and what they feel I'm ready for.

Inside The Ivy: Do you think you're ready for that next level, wherever it may be?

Sean Gallagher: I feel like I'm ready right now. I'm sure a lot of guys would probably say the same thing. I know there are some things I could work on, but also some things I could work on at the next level that wouldn't hurt me. I would love to be up there and to get there as soon as possible, but it all depends on the Cubs. If they want to send me back down and tell me to work on one specific thing and I get that down, I'll do it.

Inside The Ivy: Speaking of which, you mentioned earlier this year that when you got to West Tenn, your mechanics got into a little funk. Who helped you correct that the most: you or the coaches?

Sean Gallagher: When I first got to Double-A, I don't know how I let them get away from me, but my mechanics got out of whack. I didn't know what was going on, and I couldn't figure it out. Mike Anderson, our pitching coach, was trying to help with me with everything and Lester Strode [Minor League Pitching Coordinator] was trying to help me as much as he could. I just kept getting told to try this and try that. Once I finally figured out that none of that was working, I had to go back to basics. Once I did that and started working within myself and realizing all the stuff that had made me successful before, about two weeks later, I got back into it and back to where I needed to be. Everything just came back.

Inside The Ivy: ERA-wise, your numbers didn't take much of a dramatic upturn once you got to Double-A. What did you notice differently about the hitters there than the level before?

Sean Gallagher: The guys up there are definitely a lot more patient. They know what pitches they can hit and what pitches they don't want to hit. You'll find guys that will take a fastball inside that they can hit, but it's not the pitch they want. They're looking for you to make that mistake with the fastball or hanging curveball, and are willing to take the chance that they're going to get it. They have a lot more patience, laying off pitches in the dirt and high strikes. That's definitely one of the biggest things I noticed.

Inside The Ivy: What are your plans for the off-season?

Sean Gallagher: For the next few months, I've been pretty much told that I'm shut down -- no Instructs, Winter League's or fall ball. I'll take my time and get back to my off-season routine that I've had the past two years. I know coming into this Spring Training just as I did the last Spring Training what shape I need to be in. I want to come back in even better shape and keep on improving on the year before.

Inside The Ivy: Do you think you came into spring camp in great shape this year?

Sean Gallagher: I feel like I came in, in pretty good shape. I felt like there were a few other areas that I could work on, but thought I could get away with. I'm going to work my tail off this off-season and come into Spring Training next year in the best shape of my life.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Our condolences go out to Sean and the entire Gallagher family, as the young pitcher recently suffered a death in the family toward the end of his season. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gallagher's.)

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