Throughout his climb up and down the organizational ladder, Zac Gallen has learned to adjust when he's developed a good feel for one of the pitches in his wide-ranging arsenal. On Sunday, he followed his changeup to a stellar performance for Double-A Springfield.
The Cardinals' No. 22 prospect tossed seven one-hit innings, striking out six without issuing a walk, as Springfield blanked Northwest Arkansas, 6-0, at Hammons Field. Allan de San Miguel singled in the third and was the Naturals' lone baserunner against the right-hander.
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"I saw they wanted to swing so I just made some pitches early with it and when I had the chance, try to put some guys away with it too," the 21-year-old said. "The last couple weeks, I'm starting to get a better feel for my changeup. At the same time, your game plan always changes throughout the game, so I was just kind of reading their swings, reading their approaches so just going off that."
Galleb (2-2) started the year with Class A Advanced Palm Beach and joined Springfield on June 3 after earning his first promotion. He was bumped up to Triple-A Memphis on June 26 and allowed six runs while fanning 20 over 15 2/3 innings in three Pacific Coast League starts.
"My time in Triple-A was a lot of fun," the University of North Carolina product said. "I got to talk with some guys that had a different perspective on the game and I think that's going to help me a lot."
In 17 starts across three levels, Gallen is 8-5 with a 2.12 ERA and 112 strikeouts over 111 2/3 frames. Sunday was his first scoreless outing since a career-high eight-inning start for Palm Beach on May 17.
Video: Zac Gallen records a K for the Cardinals
"It's been pretty crazy. It's definitely not what I expected," the 2016 third-round pick said. "It's kind of been awesome to get a taste of every level so far. It's been fun because I've kind of learned something at each level that's going to help me down the road."
On Sunday, Gallen retired the first seven batters before losing a 10-pitch battle on the base hit up the middle by San Miguel. He got Cody Jones to bounce into a forceout before Royals No. 22 prospect Nicky Lopez popped to short to end the third inning.
The Gibbsboro, New Jersey, native was perfect over the next four innings, fanning four, and exited after throwing 74 of 96 pitches for strikes. Pedro Echemendia allowed a pair of singles in the eighth and hit a batter in the ninth but slammed the door on the Cards' eighth shutout of the season.
Anthony Garcia, Gabriel Lino and Darren Seferina blasted two-run homers and John Nogowski contributed three singles for Springfield.
Naturals starter Corey Ray, the Royals' No. 24 prospect, surrendered six runs on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.