High Schooler Gallagher Debuted at Ogden

When the Dodgers made the decision to assign the newly-signed third-round draft choice Austin Gallagher to Ogden it was not without second thoughts. They had learned that no matter how prized a high school prospect was, they almost never fare well as beginners in the Pioneer League, laced with players who have professional and considerable college experience.

The decision was made because prized 18-year-old third baseman, Pedro Baez, was set to open in the Gulf Coast League and they wanted both of them in the lineups on a regular basis. So, as Tim Hallgren, the director of amateur scouting put it, "We sent Gallagher to Ogden hoping he could hit a couple out".

When he got there Austin found himself the only recent high school grad on the team. "I felt like a freshman among seniors," he told Bill Shelley. And when he got off to a stumbling start, the "I told you so's" nodded their heads and soon were joined as doubters by Austin himself.

"The pressure was on," he says. "Whenever I'd do something wrong, I started panicking. I thought 'What do I do.?'. You have to work hard and take it to the next level. Up there you're not going to hit. 500."

He had in high school back in Mannheim Township, Pa., which is located in the southeastern part of the state- rolling hill country where you're just as likely to see an Amish buggy on the roadway as a Toyota. There he was considered the greatest player in his school's history.

He had certainly dominated the Mannheim Township High School record book before becoming a Dodger.

He graduated with the top two batting averages in school history (.587 in 2007 and .540 in 2006), and the top two slugging averages (1.159, 2007 and 1.011, 2006), the top two on-base percentages (.663 in 2007 and .634 in 2006). While the school doesn't keep on-base plus slugging, just for information in his junior and senior seasons he had stunning OPS totals of 1.822 and 1.645.  

Other records include most hits (47) in 29 games in 2006; most home runs (10 and 8); most total bases 88 and 73; second (13 and third (11) in doubles; and third with 35 RBI in 2006.  

But, of course, he wasn't hitting against Pioneer League pitching and even though he had impressive credentials, scout Clair Rierson worried some.  

"You know, I don't hear much talk about him among the other scouts," he confided in John Barr, the director of Eastern scouting for the Dodgers, who had joined him in looking at Gallagher. "Great," answered Barr. "That means we may have a chance to get him. Let's keep it that way."

Gallagher had another advantage along with his athletic ability. His dad Glenn was a third-round pick in his day as well after starring at Clemson in football and baseball. In fact, Austin's first name is also Glenn leading to some confusion when he was picked but he's always gone by his middle name.

Glenn made it to AA in the Toronto system, then ultimately turned to college coaching. So, Austin had been around the college practices as he learned the game and knew a great deal about the work ethic needed to succeed.

Austin applied it and soon the hits began falling in. Pitchers began adjusting, too, so he wound up with a very respectable .284 average with four home runs. He definitely proved be belonged.

The Dodgers feel the good things have just begun. He has the body at 6-5, 210, for power and the left-handed stroke with lift to deliver. They think he'll be a hitter of note as he moves upward.

The notion is he won't make it as a third baseman, though. He has good hands and his arm is okay but his range is suspect. He might well go to first or possibly to left eventually.

Although he's most comfortable where he's stationed, he's not the type to complain if they decide to move him. "All I've ever wanted is to play big league baseball and I'll do what it takes to get there."

Maybe some day in Los Angeles both he and Baez will be in the same lineup. Then it will be the Dodgers' turn to say, "I told you so.  

His record:
Glenn Austin Gallagher   bl  tr  6-5   210
Born-November 16, 1988
Obtained- Selected in third round of 2008 draft

year	team   ave    obp  gm   ab   r   h  2b  3b  hr  bi  sb
2007	Ogden  .284  .346  55  197  28  56  11   0   4  17   0