Among the reasons most baseball fans ignore foreign prospect development is the inherent time-lag. The players that matter are the players most ready to produce either immediately, or soon. As such, remote options like Richard Gallardo get lost in more timely topics. Today seems a good day to shine a light on a pitcher that's tossed in two games and four innings "off the compound".
From Maracay, Venezuela, the 6-1 right-hander signed in July 2018 for a $1 million bonus. If the Cubs were to sign a reliever in three days for a one-million dollar amount, it would likely be mocked as insignificant. Perhaps, justifiably so. Gallardo, though, is a valid potential piece in the pipeline, and among my favorites.
When you were 18 years and 121 days old, how far along were you in reaching your goals? I was even more misguided then than now, probably. Gallardo has already pitched twice for the Eugene Emeralds, checking in at 4.3 years younger than the hitters he was facing. Small sample size alert, but he did okay. Two hits and two walks in four innings, with one run scoring. Not bad for a high school-senior aged youngster against college draft selections.
Gallardo's forte is that he is rather advanced. Instead of being a flame-thrower with no idea where the ball is going, Gallardo has an entire repertoire. It's like he should be a funky lefty, with one exception. He already can rush it up at 93 miles per hour. As a high school senior aged player. If you happened to a prep game this summer, and saw 93 on the radar gun with a modicum of command, you might push for the Cubs to buy him out of his college commitment as a draft pick. There's no need, as he's already in the pipeline, after barely costing seven figures to obtain.
Among the reason I harp so often on international signings is how cost-efficient they are. Gallardo will earn the standard nominal fee as a prospect. If he advances while productive, he'll move to full-season ball, and a possible 40-man roster spot. If promoted, he makes the same mid-six figure amount that most prospects will until arbitration kicks in. MLB teams aren't successful very often without solid success from pre-arbitration players.
In minor-league spring training, Gallardo will attempt to show he's advanced enough for full-season ball. As he tossed fewer than 40 innings in game action last season, he might not be quite ready in April. Remaining behind in extended spring training for awhile might be preferable. He can get in his innings, building up his strength, without worrying about 95-plus mile exit velocities for awhile. With a brief look in the Northwest League in 2019, though, South Bend ought to be plausible in 2020.
As for "How good might he be?" or "When might he arrive at the MLB level?" As usual, it figures to be success- and health-related. He could be a valid consideration in 24 months. Particularly if he can refine his command, and add juice to his fastball. If Gallardo is on one feed and Brailyn Marquez is on another, I'll have a hard choice.