To those who don’t know, Zac Gallen is a professional baseball pitcher who currently plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round of the 2016 MLB draft but later traded to the Miami Marlins, he made his major league debut with the Marlins on June 20, 2019. He was traded to the Diamondbacks on July 31, 2019, in the deal that sent MLB The Show 23 cover star Jazz Chisholm to the Fish. He was born on August 3, 1995, in Gibbstown, New Jersey, and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In his brief career, Gallen has already established himself as one of the top pitchers in the league. As of the end of the 2021 season, he has a career record of 19-17 with a 3.60 earned run average (ERA) and 382 strikeouts in 308 innings pitched. He finished ninth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2019 and, in some circles, is a future Cy Young candidate.
The 27-year-old Gallen is known off the field for his work ethic and dedication to the game. He has been described as a cerebral pitcher who constantly seeks ways to improve his performance. This, paired with legendary pitching coach Brent Strom, who mentored Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, has seen Gallen progress from prospect to bonafide ace.
Gallen’s fastball (according to BaseballSavant.mlb.com) ranks in the 90th Percentile of spin rate and had a strikeout percentage of 26.9% while posting a 2.54 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP in 31 games last year. He also almost doubled his strikeout totals from his previous three years combined, sitting down 192 batters in the 2022 campaign.
Gallen finds himself set up for a tremendous leap; with the team improving the bullpen and the influx of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects hitting the majors, his win totals should jump. His fastball, curveball, and changeup combo should keep hitters off balance, but the areas that need work are the walks. Gallen is in the 68th Percentile in walk rate, according to BaseballSavant, and a slight decrease in walks allowed or an increase in efficiency should move the needle from “great” to “ELITE.”
Hope is blooming in the desert, with a new head coach for the Cardinals, Kevin Durant joining Devin Booker on the Suns, and the much-touted farm system built by Mike Hazen coming to fruition. If Gallen can capitalize on this opportunity, he could be the new face of the “BabyBacks 2.0.”