2004 MLB Draft Preview: RHP, Andrew Gale

The 2004 MLB Amateur Draft is only just around the corner and teams are starting to zone in on the players they hope will greatly help their future. As it has been made publicly well known, this year's draft is as deep as it gets as far as pitching is concerned. Teams around the majors will have a great opportunity to replenish something in their farm system that is hard to come by, pitching. One of these pitchers that could go as a first round pick is high school prospect, Andrew Gale.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Andrew Gale
DOB: November 28, 1985
Height: 6' 6"
Weight: 220
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Place of Residence: Durham, New Hampshire
High School: Phillips Exeter Academy

This New Hampshire native right hander, Andy Gale, has gone a bit over looked previewing the upcoming draft due to the presence of other New England high school pitchers, Jay Rainville and Mark Rogers but by no means is he over looked by scouts and coaches that have seen him pitch. Gale, the son of former Major League pitcher Rich Gale is expected to go late in the first round in this 2004 MLB Draft. Most scouts are impressed by how polished he has displayed himself to be and how mechanically sound his motion is for such a young age. Perhaps the fact that he will be overshadowed slightly by his New England counterparts will allow him to slip under the radar and start a successful career.

Scouts and coaches have marveled at the composure, polished mechanics and natural pitching ability that Andy Gale has once he steps onto the pitching mound for Phillips Exeter Academy High School. What he has is rare for a pitching that is still only 18 years old. Most pitchers usually have the natural raw stuff but he is able to mold that together with the pitching maturity of a player already through college. Speaking in an interview with The Union Leader, his coach, Bill Dennehy at Phillips Exeter Academy had to say this about his 18 year old ace. "He's so in sync," said the coach as he watched his ace right-hander warm up in the bullpen. "He doesn't get ahead of his body. He has good balance. He unfolds so nicely. He's just as smooth. . . . You see a lot of guys throwing hard and rearing back and muscling the ball. He doesn't do that. He's throwing nice and smooth like that and I'd guess he's throwing about 87 miles an hour. In a game, he throws it five or six miles an hour faster. It looks to some people like he's not even straining and they find out after what he's throwing." The praise does not end at just the coaching staff at his high school but extends to the dozens of scouts that come to watch all of his games. Gale has credited much of his athleticism and flexibility that allow him to have such flawless mechanics to his hockey experience. Any Gale has become well known as a top hockey goalie in New England but has decided that his future is as a professional pitcher. "I just like baseball more," says Gale. "I can't explain it. I have an absolute blast playing it. I just love baseball." Everyone around the game would have to love the choice that he made to pursue baseball as they foresee a bright future ahead of him.

Andy Gale knows the type of  upper tier talent that he has and expects no less than the very best from himself, striving for the best out of himself every time he takes the mound. "I try to go out every time and be the best pitcher in the country, high school or college," he said. "It's not realistic, but I try to be the best pitcher out there." While he may not be the best pitcher in the country, he has certainly made his case to put himself right towards the top. One Anaheim Angels scout, George Biron spoke on some of the draft possibilities for Andy Gale in this upcoming lottery. "As far as being able to tell what round, you really can't pinpoint it," said Biron. "Any scout who says they can is not telling the truth. And it does an injustice to a kid to tell them they'll go in the top three rounds and then they don't get drafted at all. It's a real big letdown for kids and not what they need at this point." Knowing the kind of skills that Gale has, Biron also spoke of how impressed he was with the young righty's talent. "He certainly looks to be a really good prospect," Biron said. "His size is great. He's got a pretty smooth delivery. His mechanics are real good. He's got a quick arm and he has pretty good command and location of his pitches." His intelligence and and composure is most likely only matched by Foothill High School pitcher in California, Phil Hughes. Gale seems, even for his young age, to know exactly how to go at each hitter with a plan.

Already weighing his options for his 2004 season, Gale has already signed a letter of intent to attend to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after finishing out an incredible high school career. However, it is far from a sure thing that he will actually attend the university. In his senior season at Phillips Exeter Academy, Gale was the captain of the varsity team and had yet another stellar season. So far this season, he has a 4-1 record with an under 1.00 ERA. He has also solidified his repertoire now that he has been getting many more starting appearances for Phillips Exeter and levels above that. After going 2-1 with a 1.68 ERA in his junior year in 2003, Gale still saw the need to add more. Speaking of his newly added breaking ball in an interview with Foster's Online Gale had to say this. "My slider has been pretty effective," Andy Gale said. "Right now I don't think I need the curve." Even though he has added the slider and is able to utilize a four-seam and two-seam fastball, many have repeatedly questioned that fact that he does not have a curveball. "At these camps I'm usually the only one that doesn't throw a curve," Gale said. "I probably will sometime in the future only because it's another pitch to get somebody out." Yet again, this shows the "student of the game" type attitude that lights up the eyes of scouts even more than their radar guns.

Before the start of this 2004 season, Andy Gale was named a preseason All-American by Baseball America and he has not been a disappointment for anyone. Said Gale of the honor, "It's obviously a great accomplishment". "I feel very fortunate I was named one. The preseason one was great, I'd love the postseason one even more." Everyone has been so impressed with him that 28 Major League teams have been in serious contact with Gale since the start of this season. Of course, only one will be able to snag Gale but only under the terms that he is hoping for. The young right hander has wide open options including a prestigious college opportunity at Chapel Hill. In an interview with the Union Leader, he said "I've made it clear if I'm drafted and it's appealing enough, I'll go." However, he does say that under the correct circumstances the pros is the stronger possibility." I don't see any better job in the world than playing professional baseball," Gale said. "I'm expecting to go mid-to-late first round, but that's all speculation right now." It is more than likely that one of the 28 Major League teams in contact with him, will grab him in the late first round.

Repertoire. Two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, slider.

Fastball. Andy Gale does not have an amazing, blazing fastball but it is the way he throws it that impresses the scouts. His mechanics are just about flawless and the ball just explodes out of his hand much harder than it would seem. The majority of his his fastballs are in the 91-93 MPH range as it occasionally will touch 94 MPH. Uses his tall, large frame to his advantage and uses leverage well. Coaches and scouts say that despite his already monstrous frame, he has a potential to fill himself out and add a few more miles per hour to his fastball. This will make it all the more difficult to hit him. Has tremendous command of his fastball. Uses the two-seamer to run in on the righties in an explosive manner. His four-seamer is a pitch that is thrown much harder and locates it extremely well.

Other Pitches. Gale's pitches are explosive, electric or whatever you may want to call it but it is just plain nasty. The slider he wields is as close to unhittable as a pitch can be. It is devastating on right handed hitters as it dives down and away at about 80 MPH. Uses it as a very effective strikeout pitch and has developed superb command of it as well. Gale uses the two-seamer as more of a sinker that can be just as nasty as a breaking ball. Runs in on right handed hitters and is thrown hard enough to break bats.

Pitching. The big thing that scouts have noticed about Gale is that he knows how to truly pitch and make adjustments within a game if necessary. Is deceptive with his 3/4 delivery and could develop into a sinker slider type pitcher. Is not afraid to come inside on a hitter and move him off the plate. Moves in and out and up and don very well. Knows how to setup his best pitch, the slider. Very free and easy on the mound and fools hitters by the way the ball explodes out of his hand. Pitches with a plan.

Projection. The sky is the limit as far as potential for Andy Gale with his nasty stuff and intelligence for pitching. It appears that he is a future number type starter that could eat innings for a Major League ballclub. If he continues to fill out his gangly frame and becomes even more of a power pitcher that can truly dominate a game, he could be a potential ace.

Comparison. Chris Carpenter. Well, these two are the exact same height and weight and attended the same High School, Phillips Exeter Academy. If Gale is selected in the first round this year, he will be the second New Hampshire native to do so. The first was Carpenter back in 1993 by the Blue Jays. Both of these right-handers have almost identical mechanics and have the same type of fastballs in their repertoire. However, Gale is much more of a sinker, slider type of pitcher.

Draft Possibilities. As already stated, 28 of the Major League teams in baseball have been in serious contact with Andy Gale. So, when draft day finally comes it could be almost any team in baseball that snags Gale.

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