Injuries anywhere from a knee injury to shoulder tendinitis earlier in his career cost him valuable development time as a starter and the organization thought it best that for him to transition into a reliever role, a role which he began two years ago in Charleston and did for the first full season ever last year.
He has found success as a reliever too now that his injury problems are settled. He posted a 1.71 ERA in 63 innings pitched and 35 games played last year, most of which were in High-A Tampa.
His numbers continue to look good as he has pitched a 1.27 ERA in 28.1 innings pitched to go along with a stingy 0.88 WHIP. Fourteen of his 15 appearances this year have been with the Thunder; he pitched a scoreless inning in his lone appearance in Triple-A Scranton on May 18th.
“Playing in Triple-A was a nice experience,” Gallegos said. “I learned a lot from the guys there that have played [at] the big league level as well as other experiences from the different types of people there.”
His strikeout to walk ratio is a ridiculous seven to one so far this season and he has struck out better than 14 batters per nine innings. For the Thunder, who have scored three runs or less in 16 games since the start of May, having a guy like Gallegos take command of the middle to late innings of a game is a blessing according to Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado.
“That’s a plus for us having a guy like him,” Rosado said. “His performance is only going to help his career. He has been developing well and I expected that from him. I think this is a guy that has pitch-ability in, not just his fastball, but in his secondary pitches which can go for strike. I think we have a good pitcher here. I expect him to continue to do well and more.
“He’s been very aggressive,” Rosado added. “He’s been healthy for a while now. I would say since last year, he’s been very consistent at attacking the batters. That’s been his key.”
Gallegos said that he is content with his current role and that he is contributing to the organization, finally healthy after spending a lot of time injured in the first few years of his career.
“I’m really happy to have the opportunity to play here in Trenton,” Gallegos said. “I worked really hard to prepare myself in the offseason in Mexico because I know this season was going to be a big challenge. I tried to physically and mentally prepare myself and more than anything, work on my daily routine and doing everything to make sure my arm is healthy.”
While he was on the shelf for injuries, Gallegos said that he learned a lot at the lower levels. His time in Mexico also served him well, he said, as he played with and against players who played at the Major League level. He benefited a lot from having to listen and learn from their experiences as big leaguers.
Gallegos said that he needed to learn how to adjust to different types of batters and how to use pitches other than the fastball.
“I think my past experiences in the lower levels taught me that I have to mature and adapt every time I move up,” Gallegos said. “It’s a matter of taking in those experiences and learning from them, especially when it comes to pitching.
"At the Double-A and Triple-A level, the batters are so much smarter. They’ll punish you if you just throw a simple fastball. As a pitcher, you have to mix things up, think smart to avoid making the wrong decisions and dominate the batter.”
The 24-year-old said that he is happy with his current role and actually felt relieved that he would be coming out of the bullpen now. He said that he’s able to throw better knowing that he doesn’t necessarily have to throw 80 pitches a game.
“To be honest, I’m glad with the role I have now,” Gallegos said. “The truth is, when I was a starter, I felt pressured because I am in a prestigious organization such as the Yankees. I feel good as a reliever and I’m just trying to help in whichever way the team needs me to help them.”
That is not to say Gallegos doesn’t want to start anymore. He said that if the team needs him to start, he’ll be glad to be in whatever role they need him to be.
His repertoire consists of a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball, and he'll throw all four of them out of the bullpen too, and that's a advantage. His slider has been something that he has been working a lot in the past couple of years and his fastball, his main weapon of choice for the majority of his early pro career, can hit the mid-90s on the radar gun consistently in these shorter stints.
Manager Bobby Mitchell said that out of all the good pitchers in his staff, Gallegos is one of the big standouts of the team.
“He’s outstanding,” Mitchell said. “He’s been a mainstay for us all season long. Then, he went to Triple-A and did the same thing. For me, he’s valuable wherever he is and whatever role he is in. He’s got good command on his pitches.”
But for now, Gallegos, who should be in-line for a promotion again soon, is very happy to be on the team and is not worried about promotions. He wants to just do the job that he is told and perform well.
“Moving up and down are things that I can’t control,” Gallegos said. “I just have to go out there and do my best.”