Salvador Perez has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with an intercostal strain, an injury that could very well keep him out for a month. Drew Butera will take over the bulk of the catching duties, but to back him up the Royals have called up catcher Cameron Gallagher from Omaha. So who is Cameron Gallagher?
Gallagher is a right-handed hitter who was batting .294/.339/.408 with five home runs in 68 games for AAA Omaha. Standing at 6’3’’ 230, many scouts feel he could have a decent big league career, although most likely as a backup. He was originally a second-round pick for the Royals in 2011, taken in the same round as Major League catchers Austin Hedges and James McCann. Gallagher was selected out of Manheim Township High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about 90 minutes due west of Philadelphia.
His family is famous in Lancaster for their athletic prowess. His father Glenn was a quarterback and pitcher at Clemson, and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays before a torn labrum ended his career. His older brother Austin was a standout third baseman who was drafted by the Dodgers and reached High A ball. Cameron turned down a scholarship offer from East Carolina to play for the Royals for a bonus of $750,000.
Cameron Gallagher had a rough first season in the pros, then battled injuries in his second year, playing in just 36 games. In 2013, he was hit by a pitch that broke his hand, and hit just .212/.302/.306 in 66 games for Low A Lexington. He was healthier in 2014, but still found it difficult hitting in the pitching-friendly environment in Wilmington. Still, his defense won him praise and he was named a Carolina League All-Star despite hitting just .228/.306/.333. “I can’t say enough good things about him as a catcher,” said pitcher Christian Binford.
As he has progressed to higher levels, Gallagher has improved his offense, perhaps as a result of being injury-free. He hit .259/.348/.359 with 37 walks in 91 games for AA Northwest Arkansas last year. He also led Texas League catchers in most defensive categories, throwing out 48% of potential base-stealers.
According to Baseball America, Gallagher is a fantastic defender who isn’t a complete zero on offense either.
Gallagher projects as a 30 hitter on the 20-to-80 scouting scale with modest bat speed, but he does draw enough walks to post reasonable on-base percentages. He will show average raw power in batting practice, but that rarely translates to games. Scouts project him to hit 6-10 home runs at most.
Gallagher has a walk rate of 9.2% in the minors, so don’t expect the same free-swinging approach Salvy employed. He didn’t whiff much in the minors either, with a strikeout rate of 12%. Now 24, Gallagher does not have super high upside, but he could be a serviceable cheap backup who provides excellent defense for years to come.