Some truths seem unfair. Some are unfair. Often, international prospects are initially assessed on their signing bonuses. Five-figures, especially in the lower fives, and the player was likely an afterthought. (Otherwise, he’d have gotten a larger bonus.) As a player creeps toward or reaches seven figures in a signing bonus, he has expectations rightly or wrongly. While some are fascinated by the players, others are inspired simply by the number after the dollar sign. Today’s topic, Richard Gallardo, inked an initial contract in July 2018 with a $1 million figure attached to it.
Richard Gallardo, right-handed pitcher
Born September 6, 2001. Maracay, Venezuela
Singed by the Cubs as an international free agent.
From the jump, Gallardo’s draw was his repertoire. While with some pitchers, it’s the velocity, or whispered promise of velocity, Gallardo already had a string of usable pitches to be crafted. The velocity as he hit stateside was already 92, if I recall correctly. That isn’t bad for a high school senior, which is what he scaled to. The string of pitches was, and remains, the draw.
After missing 2020 along with almost every other prospect, Gallardo’s 2021 numbers in Low-A were... ordinary. On the other hand, he was almost three years younger than the average hitter he faced. A person could write a 3,000-word synopsis of his 2021 campaign, and one thing will be more important than anything on the sheet. If he is successful in 2022 in Advanced-A South Bend, most everything not yet delivered will be forgiven.
Adbert Alzolay and Justin Steele came of age in the Cubs pipeline in Advanced-A. Quite a few others withered and disappeared at the same point. As much as people dig fantasy prognostication based on non-convincing numbers, that isn’t my preference. Gallardo did well enough to be penciled into a rather capable South Bend 2022 rotation. What he’s doing now, and what he does in March, dwarfs what he did in 2021. Gallardo has supporters and detractors based on anecdotal information. If he carves in Advanced-A, he has trade value, and the Cubs won’t want to trade him. (It’s not irony that those almost always seem to go in the same direction.)
I have no qualms with saying “I have no idea on Gallardo.” The repertoire is there. He’s still young. At some point, he’s greatly benefited by having “that one year.” He hasn’t yet. Maybe it’s believing in himself, or having the right pitching coach, or the right catcher, at exactly the right moment. As for me? I’ll be supportive of Gallardo, hoping this is his year.