Rangers Prospect #24: Armando Galarraga

Armando Galarraga's two seasons with the Rangers organization were plagued by injury and inconsistency, but he showed promise in the second half of last season, ultimately reaching the major leagues. We take a look at the recently traded prospect with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Armando Galarraga
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: January 15, 1982
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 180
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

When the Rangers acquired Armando Galarraga (along with Brad Wilkerson) in exchange for Alfonso Soriano prior to the 2006 season, the club knew they were getting a promising pitcher with an outstanding sinker-slider combo. But because of his past arm troubles – including Tommy John surgery in 2002 – they were also taking a bit of a risk.

Galarraga struggled in his first season as a Ranger, as he posted a 1-10 record with a 5.14 ERA while battling shoulder fatigue throughout the season. The issue limited him to just nine starts – 41 innings – at Double-A Frisco. The right-hander spent the rest of the season on the disabled list, making rehab appearances in Arizona, Spokane, and Bakersfield.

After a disappointing 2006 season, Galarraga entered 2007 on the fringe of the Rangers' prospect radar. His first half did little to change that, as he entered the Texas League All-Star break with an ERA of 5.40.

The primary reason for Galarraga's struggles was simply that his stuff wasn't as good as it had been while he was with the Nationals organization. The Venezuelan's fastball had regressed to the mid-to-upper-80s and his slider lacked the sharp break it once had.

That all changed in the second half of last season, as Galarraga suddenly looked the part of the top prospect the Rangers hoped they were acquiring two years ago. The 26-year-old put up a 2.25 ERA in nine starts – 56 IP – with Double-A Frisco. He limited opposing hitters to a .204 batting average while striking out 59 hitters.

More significantly, Galarraga's stuff showed drastic improvement, beginning with a start against Arkansas on June 28. While his sinking fastball was anywhere between 89-94 MPH during the second half, it consistently sat in the 91-93 range. His hard slider once again became a plus strikeout pitch, often fluctuating between 84-86 MPH.

The improvement earned the prospect a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma, where he held his own. Galarraga gave up six runs in six innings during a May spot-start with the RedHawks, but he held a 3.38 ERA (including a .208 BAA and 18 K in 18.1 IP) in three August starts with the club.

Galarraga got a taste of the big leagues as a September call-up last season. The righty appeared in three games, making one start. Though he showed major league-caliber stuff, his command was inconsistent in the short stint.

Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Galarraga's fastball ranged anywhere between 85-94 MPH as a member of the Rangers organization. When going well, the hurler works with a 91-94 MPH fastball that features hard sink. He complements it well with a hard slider, which shows plus potential, but is inconsistent. Perhaps the deciding factor in whether Galarraga remains a starting pitcher or becomes a reliever is his changeup. He has worked hard to bring the pitch up to par over the last few seasons.

Projection: Galarraga's professional career has been plagued by inconsistency. The role he takes at the next level will depend both on how healthy and how consistent he can stay. Galarraga has flashed the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher, but based on past results, that appears unlikely to happen. Should Galarraga remain a starting pitcher, he is more likely to work at the back of a big league rotation. His solid fastball-slider combination makes him an ideal late-inning reliever – if he can stay consistent. At his best, Galarraga has the stuff to be a key contributor to a major league pitching staff. But – at the risk of sounding like a broken record – the key is remaining healthy and consistent.

2008 Outlook: When he was a member of the Rangers organization, Galarraga figured to pitch the majority of the season with Triple-A Oklahoma. Now a Tiger, Galarraga has been placed on the 40-man roster and is likely to see big league action at some point in 2008. However, he probably won't get a shot at a regular role until the 2009 campaign.

ETA: 2008.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2001 GCL Expos (RK) 1-3 34.2 37 15 24 3.12
2002 GCL Expos (RK) 0-0 3.2 1 0 1 2.45
2003 GCL Expos (RK) 1-1 15.0 13 5 7 1.80
2004 Savannah (A) 5-5 110.1 104 31 94 4.65
2005 Potomac (A+) 3-4 80.0 69 23 79 2.48
Harrisburg (AA) 3-4 76.1 80 21 58 5.19
2006 AZL Rangers (RK) 0-2 16.1 18 6 16 3.31
Spokane (SSA) 0-1 4.0 4 0 3 4.50
Bakersfield (A+) 0-1 8.2 6 7 7 6.23
Frisco (AA) 1-6 41.0 57 13 38 5.71
2007 Frisco (AA) 9-6 127.2 122 47 114 4.02
Oklahoma (AAA) 2-2 24.2 23 11 21 4.74
Texas (MLB) 0-0 8.2 8 7 6 6.23

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