Las Vegas Aviators OF Mark Payton and New Orleans Baby Cakes RHP Zac Gallen have been selected the Pacific Coast League's Player and Pitcher of the Week for the extended season-opening period of April 4-14, the League office announced Monday.
Payton has been the offensive catalyst for an Aviators team that has jumped out to a PCL-best 9-2 start. In nine games, he topped the League in slugging percentage (1.030) and OPS (1.557), while his 34 total bases and 15 RBI matched the circuit's best. Payton hit .455 (15-for-33), the second-highest mark in the League, clubbed five home runs and scored 10 runs. Additionally, he walked (5) more times than he struck out (4).
The suburban Chicago native hit one home run in each of his first four games of the season, all at El Paso. In that stretch, from April 5-8, Payton also had 11 RBI and seven runs scored, as the Aviators took four out of the five games in the series. Payton had at least one hit in all nine games, drove in at least one run in eight games and scored at least one run in seven games. Payton's run production has helped the Aviators score 95 runs, the most in Triple-A Baseball.
The 27-year-old is in his first year in the Athletics organization after being selected by Oakland in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft from New York (AL). Payton spent the first five years of his career with the Yankees, including each of the last three with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 153 career games at Minor League Baseball's highest level, Payton has hit .281 (142-for-505) with 17 home runs and 62 RBI. He was drafted by New York in the seventh round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Texas. This is his second career Player of the Week award, previously being honored as a member of the Tampa Yankees in April 2016.
Gallen made two starts for the Baby Cakes, allowing just one run on three hits in 13.0 innings, while striking out 19 and not issuing a walk. On April 5 against Round Rock, he tossed seven hitless innings with 11 strikeouts, facing the minimum. The only hitter that reached, via a fielding error, was erased on a caught stealing. Gallen threw 60 of his 87 pitches for strikes. New Orleans' combined no-hit attempt was broken up by the leadoff batter of the ninth inning, as Jack Mayfield homered. Gallen tossed another quality start in his second outing of the season, on April 11 at Iowa. The New Jersey native went six innings, giving up only three hits, one run and striking out eight. He retired 12 of the first 13 hitters and didn't factor into the decision of Iowa's 5-4 win.
The University of North Carolina product is in his second year in the Marlins organization after being acquired in a five-player trade from St. Louis on December 14, 2017. Gallen spent all last season with New Orleans and was a mid-season All-Star after going 8-9 with a 3.65 ERA (133.1 IP, 54 ER) and 136 strikeouts. The 23-year-old was drafted by the Cardinals in the third round in 2016. Gallen has been honored as a Pitcher of Week once before in his career, as a member of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in July 2017.