It didn't take long for Cam Gallagher
to embrace his role as a catcher. That's been a good thing for the Burlington Royals.
Gallagher, an infielder until late in his high school days, continues to make the transition to behind the plate. The parent Kansas City Royals had a vision for Gallagher when they made him a second-round selection in 2011, despite his relatively short time as a catcher.
So far, he's proving them right.
"He's learning every day," said Burlington manager Tommy Shields. "He's never caught this much. He's very field aware. He does have a presence."
As the regular catcher for the Royals, Gallagher has brought a leadership component to one of the Appalachian League's top teams. That's not by mistake.
"I love being in the game the whole time, the guy making the decisions," Gallagher said. "I've always tried to be a leader, especially as a catcher. Just try to be a good teammate. It was kind of different from high school where everything is success, success, success. Now here, you're trying to learn how to take failure and go on from that."
Gallagher, 19, has directed a pitching staff with most of its members older than him. That hasn't been an issue, primarily because Gallagher has earned the trust and respect of his teammates.
"Right away you could tell he was a leader and knew what he was doing," Burlington pitcher Patrick Conroy said.
Gallagher, whose older brother, Austin, is a first baseman in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and whose father, Glenn, is a former Minor League pitcher, said he continues to make progress. There's something new to absorb all the time.
"You learn so much playing pro ball," he said. "I actually love it back there. From where I was last year catching-wise, it's night and day."
At the plate, Gallagher has been one of the productive members on the league's top power-hitting team. By early August, his batting average rose close to .300 and he contended for the top spot on the team.
Part of Gallagher's emergence might be overshadowed by the presence of teammate Bubba Starling, an outfielder and a first-round selection in the 2011 Draft. Still, Gallagher hasn't flown under the radar, especially with a quick release on throws to second base and a defensive presence that regularly has been on display this summer.
So it's clear he's a player demanding attention.
"I don't mind the attention or any of that," he said. "Whatever comes with it, comes with it."
The right stuff: Danville Braves right-hander Williams Perez has won back-to-back decisions, his most impressive outing coming Aug. 8 when he retired the last 19 batters he faced against Burlington. He threw 16 innings without giving up an earned run across three outings against the Royals this year. "That's a tough guy to face when it's moving all over the place and he's throwing it for strikes," Danville catcher Troy Snitker said.
Taking a break: Princeton Rays left-hander Blake Snell, who leads the league with a 1.59 ERA, skipped a start in the rotation because of what manager Michael Johns called normal wear and tear. Snell then left the team to attend a funeral, but he's expected back in the Princeton rotation by the weekend.
Clinching moments: The Rays won the Mercer Cup, which goes to the winner of the season series between the Rays and neighboring Bluefield Blue Jays. Princeton was 2-4 in the series until winning four in a row, including consecutive walk-off victories, to secure the Cup. Shortstop Brandon Martin scored the winning run in the clincher after driving in the winning run the previous night. The final count ended 5-4 in Princeton's favor.
Missing man: The Bristol Sox managed only four hits and struck out 12 times in a 10-0 loss to the Greeneville Astros in their first game since the promotion of first-round pick Courtney Hawkins, who was sent to Class A Kannapolis.