Zac Gallen has wasted no time making a solid impression.
Taken in the third round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, the 2013 Bishop Eustace Prep graduate finds himself a call away from the bigs.
The right-hander, who played three seasons at the University of North Carolina, was promoted to the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis on Monday. The next day, he struck out eight in five innings of work in his Redbirds’ debut.
“I didn’t expect it,” Gallen said Thursday after the team wrapped up a series against Oklahoma City. “There were some injuries with the big club and some guys moved around, but there was no indication this would happen.
“I was looking forward to the (Texas League) All-Star break and resting my arm a little. They called me in and told me I was pitching the next day in Memphis. They had a car service and we drove about 4 ½ hours that day. I took a nap, went over a scouting report and watched some video, and then went to the yard.”
Gallen ultimately was tagged with the loss, giving up six hits and three earned runs in his Pacific Coast League debut.
“The adrenaline was definitely up there in the first inning,” he added. “After that, I settled down.
“The biggest thing is that you want to prove you belong. When you get this close (to the majors), you can taste it. You’ve just got to keep your feet on the ground and not look too far ahead.”
When the season began in April, Gallen was with the organization’s Class A-Advanced team in the Florida State League. He went 5-2 with a 1.62 ERA in nine starts, striking out 56 and walking just 10.
The right-hander was then promoted to Class AA Springfield of the Texas League on June 3. There, he went 1-2 with 3.04 ERA in four starts before receiving his second promotion of the spring to the Redbirds.
“I’m a lot more confident with my pitches,” said Gallen, who has relied on his fastball, cutter and change-up. “The biggest thing is to attack the zone and let them put the ball in play.
“The last month has been pretty crazy. You’ve got to be on your toes with the minor-league lifestyle. I’m grateful for everything and just trying to keep this rolling.”