Offseason Spotlight '12: Anthony Gallas
Some Yankee they called Yogi Berra once said that baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.
Many more of the game’s greats acknowledge the cerebral fortitude required to be successful. Indians’ outfielder Anthony Gallas is also well-aware of it.
Gallas, 24, completed his second full season with the Indians’ organization this past year. The Kent State alumnus signed with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and has progressed through the system over the past three years.
Gallas crafted a strong campaign for himself last season as he started the year in High-A Carolina. Through 107 games with the MudCats, he posted a .250 average while smacking eight home runs, 30 doubles and 51 RBIs, and struck out 85 times.
“The beginning of the year went good right up to real early, then it got bad real quick, and I’m just thankful I got out of it,” Gallas said. “I think I learned a lot about myself this past summer, not pressing so much, being able to work through things like that. You really have to as a baseball player. I just feel like the Carolina League made me better as a baseball player as a whole.”
The Carolina League is tough, as there are only eight teams, meaning players become familiar to the competition, but Gallas found a way to turn the struggles into knowledge.
“The Carolina League teaches you that you really have to make adjustments, or else you’re going to get beat so you have to figure out a way,” he explained. “It’s almost like you’re a chameleon – you have to change all the time.”
Such adjustments extend beyond the batter’s box and base paths. Gallas noted that the mental aspects of the game are the toughest, and adjusting to them is every bit as important as adhering to the physical changes. Fixing one’s swing is a physical change, but does no good if one can’t recognize what opposing teams are trying to do, or how pitchers are planning to attack.
Gallas picked up on how to make adjustments, and he also learned the importance of resiliency. The season is long and often tough, but one can’t let the negatives outweigh the positives.
“You’ve got to understand that it’s always going to happen, that there’s no way to stop it,” he said. “I think one of the things that helped me is you’re going to get negative thoughts in your head and you just have to let them go.”
Gallas said the best way to divert the mind from the negative thoughts is to focus on working hard toward improvement, whether it’s working in the cage or the weight room. “It’s almost like a contingency plan for when things go bad,” he added.
That hard work extends between the foul lines as well, and Gallas’s hard work paid off as he met one of his season goals.
“I really wanted to focus on hitting better with runners in scoring position,” he said. “I did a lot better. There are holes in everyone’s swing, but I think becoming a better, more polished hitter was what I was working on. Obviously there are mechanical things, but in the big scheme of things, those aren’t things to dwell on.”
The improvements are evident and hitting with runners in scoring position was one of them, as Gallas has raised his RBI numbers with each season he’s played. One of the greater rewards came in late August, when he was promoted to AAA-Columbus.
At first, Gallas thought the coaching staff in Carolina was pulling a prank on him when he first received word of his promotion, but as he learned that it was no joke, he seized the opportunity to learn even more.
“The biggest thing was I just tried to take everything in – take in how those guys approach the game, how they approach game day, kind of the mindset of the guys.”
The jump from high-A to AA is one of the toughest to make in the minors, but skipping a level proved to be just a stepping stone for Gallas.
He hit .308 with two RBIs, one walk and three strikeouts through 13 at-bats with the Clippers, and he accredited his success to a late-season surge of adrenaline.
“You’re at the end of the season and it’s that last stretch,” he explained. “It’s tough and then they called me up to Columbus and I got a second wind. I was just trying to believe in myself, play and not think.”
AAA-Columbus is the final step before the end of the road at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, and Gallas knows the road is shorter than it appears.
“I feel like now, everything’s closer,” he said. “You just have to believe in yourself and realize that the big leagues aren’t as far away as you think they are. When you sit there in A-ball, you think it’s far away. In reality, A-ball players aren’t that far off. Everyone’s got the talent, it’s just in your head.”
Now that he’s one step closer to the top, Gallas has his sights set on the year to come. He says most of his goals are the same, but first, he needs to find a place to prove what he can do.
“I know it’s a dogfight every year coming out of spring training,” he said. “I just want to earn an everyday outfield position and I want to take this season to the next level. I want to have the type of season where I open some eyes and people start to say, ‘This guy’s for real.’”
The path to the show is even closer for Gallas, who is a Strongsville native. Playing for the hometown team is a dream for many, and Gallas doesn’t feel like it puts a spotlight on him.
“I feel like everyone’s proud of me at the point that I’m at and now, I’m doing it for myself and I want to see how far I can go,” he said. “Everyone’s supported me beyond anything that I can imagine to this point. Everyone’s excited for what I’m doing, everyone’s excited that I even got here, so I don’t think I can disappoint many people in this area.”
Gallas is spending the offseason at home, working in Westlake, and preparing for the upcoming season. He grew up a Cleveland fan, and feels that the team is headed in the right direction. He says the hiring of Terry Francona as the Indians’ new manager has a positive impact from top to bottom.
“He has two World Series rings, so you couldn’t ask for a better guy to step in and take charge of the team, and from what I’ve heard, he’s more involved in the minor league system," he said. "I think it’s good to be hands-on like that. Everything I’ve heard about him was good, so I think it was the right decision to make.”
There are plenty more decisions to be made by the Cleveland Indians’ front office this offseason. The 2012 season was tough for both the team and the fans, but for Gallas, everything is anchored by a tough mind.
“You’ve got to let positive thoughts come in and focus on those,” he said.
The great Yogi Berra knew that baseball’s mental game is the toughest part. Anthony Gallas has mastered the tough part and now, he’s ready to show his own greatness at Progressive Field.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.
Sorry, but given how awful the Tribe is, and a weak farm means their scouts are also awful, and from my knowledge of them, they are really awful.
But so are the other Clubs eyes and ears.
Everyone knew Shaw had MLB pedigree.
Everyone knew Klafczynski had a 70 plus arm as a RF as a ABCA 1st team outfielder in 2007, and he, like a Gallas, stayed home and built a solid foundation for Kent State baseball, but Epstein fell asleep and "categorized" a player that may end up a solid player in MLB.
98mph, and the kid pitched in AVon Lake in INDY????????????
How screwed up is this?
Spend more money developing DR kids??????????
F, it all
While all this is happening, very good players are bypassed, or given short leashes and are either released, or held back in favor of the Bonus player.
Scouts are more wrong than they are right, and the system pro baseball works in is imperfect. In this case, there is unfair bias with the MAC conference and how these players are perceived in the pro baseball community, as of good hitters from this conference are not as good from hitters in what folks call the POWER conferences. UNTRUE.
The Kent State baseball program, where Gallas is from has always been solid, and in the past 4-5 years culminating with a 2012 CWS appearance, many of those previous years also included other solid hitters like Rohan, Klafczynski, Shaw.
Rohan is AAA with the Cubs, Shaw is AA with the Red Sox, and Klafczynski, who along with Gallas hold some Kent State hitting records was given a whopping half season by the Cubs, released, and now is a pitcher in the Red Sox organization and pitches in the 93-96mph range and can hit 98mph never throwing one pitch at Kent State.
In a different system, a Gallas, and many other players would be not looked upon as inferior