6-5 210 BL TR
Born-November 16, 1988 in Lancaster, PA
Obtained- Selected in third round of 2008 draft
When the Dodgers made the decision to assign the third-round draft choice Austin Gallagher to Ogden it was not without second thoughts. No matter how prized a high school prospect was, they almost never fare well as beginners in the Pioneer League which is 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 in beautiful, 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 -- it sounds like Babe Ruth playing in the Three-I League.
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 to 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 what he had learned in high school 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."
That was apparent in 2008 when he was jumped over Great Lakes to High-A Inland Empire and he responded with a .293 average, a .349 on-base percentage and 55 runs batted in plus a .805 OPS-- all at age 19. All this despite a mini-funk that saw him hit .143 over the final 10 games.
He played 108 games at third base and 21 at first, showing that his fielding has kept up with his hitting by improving his fielding average and Runs Factor in each over his rookie season.
A natural left-handed hitter, he raked lefties for a .359 average and an OPS of .920. Gallagher was .276 and .774 against He favored road games, .327, over home contests, .254 but on the day-night split, he was as even as a pool table, .294-.293. Pretty much like a normal teenager, he seems a bit inconsistent. Unlike a teenager, he hit .355 with runners on base and .320 with runners in scoring position. Go figure.
If the Dodgers continue to skip the young man through the system, is should wind up in Albuquerque this season instead of Double-A Chattanooga, but that sort of rapid advancement will probably slow down and he'll start the 2009 season in Tennessee.
He is still flying well under the radar but those previously mention critics are silent now and perhaps 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."
Austin Gallagher year team ave obp ops gm ab r h 2b 3b hr bi sb 2007 Ogden .284 .346 .747 55 197 28 56 11 0 4 17 0 2008 IEmp .293 .349 .805 78 307 36 90 33 1 5 55 1 Totals .290 .348 .783 133 504 64 146 44 1 9 72 1