Tribe Prospect Gallas has a Chance to Live his Dream
By Steve Eby
Imagine a little boy walking into a Major League stadium for the first time. He’s wearing a baseball glove on one hand and holding his father’s hand with the other. As he crosses the turnstile, his eyes light up by how big the ballpark is. Never before had he been in a building so massive. He enters the stands and sees thousands of excited people just waiting to cheer on their team. Then he looks out onto the field and sees the greenest grass he has ever seen. On that grass are the heroes that until this point, he has only watched on television playing the game that he loves so much.
“Dad, one day I’m going to play on this field,” he says with confidence, “as a big leaguer.”
It’s not difficult to imagine. It happens every day at every stadium across the country. A similar or exact scenario has occurred to most people. Unfortunately for them, most peoples dream of playing in the Major Leagues for their favorite team remains a dream forever.
For Tribe prospect Anthony Gallas, however, that dream is a real possibility.
“I don’t think it could get any better than that,” Gallas said, “I feel like that is the ultimate dream and the ultimate goal. I’m working towards it every day.”
Gallas grew up in Strongsville, Ohio, a suburb less than 25 miles from Progressive Field, the home of his favorite boyhood team, the Cleveland Indians. When Anthony wasn’t playing baseball, he spent his time as a child watching or listening to his Tribe. “Those ’95 Indians and ’97 Indians, Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome, those guys were awesome.” Gallas remembers that, “the summers (in Cleveland) are pretty much summed up by (Tom) Hamilton’s voice and Rick Manning’s voice.”
Gallas attended Strongsville High School, played centerfield, and won a State Championship during his senior year in 2006. “I have to thank (head coach) Josh Sorge a lot for everything,” Gallas said. “(Before he came) we weren’t a powerhouse in baseball. He came my freshman year as the JV coach and he basically turned the program around. He showed us a video of one of the Cincinnati schools winning the State Championship at Cooper Stadium and three years later we ended up winning the State Championship on that same field. It was cool.”
After graduating from Strongsville, Gallas stayed local and played baseball for Kent State University. The KSU baseball program has made headlines recently for being the Cinderella story of the 2012 College World Series. “I watched them play as much as I could,” Gallas said. “I was going crazy when they made it to the College World Series.”
The Golden Flashes exciting run toward the National Championship, which was eventually won by the University of Arizona, meant more to Gallas than most other alumni. “I’m still friends with a lot of those guys because when I was a junior, the senior class was freshman. I played with a lot of those guys for two years.”
The run that even the most diehard Flashes fan had to think was impossible, didn’t seem all that improbable. “I always knew how good Kent was,” Gallas said. “As a baseball program we always knew what we were capable of. It meant a lot being able to see them take our program to the next level. We knew it was possible and they finally did it.”
When Gallas graduated from Kent State with his business and marketing degree, he did so as the school’s career leader in homeruns and RBIs. For most, records like that are hard to overlook. In Gallas’ case, however, he was passed over time and time again during the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft and went undrafted. The Indians signed the hometown outfielder soon after as an undrafted free agent. The low-risk move paid quick dividends for the Tribe.
In 2011, only his second season as a professional, Gallas batted .314 for the Indians Class A affiliate, the Lake County Captains. He won the Midwestern League’s Player of the Week Award on May 9, 2011 and was named to the Midwestern League’s All-Star team in June. In all, Gallas’ time at Lake County was spent hitting .314 with six homeruns and 26 RBI. For his All-Star efforts, Anthony was quickly moved up to the Indians Advanced Class A team, the Kinston Indians. The adjustment did not come easily for Gallas.
“There’s only eight teams in the Carolina League,” Gallas said. “They know you and you know them. You’ve got to do your research on pitchers; you have to take an approach up to the plate. That was the big thing last year, I didn’t have a plan up at the plate. I was just trying to hit the ball hard, but you’ve got to narrow down your scope of what you’re trying to do at the plate. This guy might throw inside and this guy outside, another might throw breaking balls and you’ve got to make adjustments.” Gallas struggled during his time at Kinston, batting only .197 with two homeruns and 21 RBI in 39 games.
In 2012, however, the 24 year old Gallas has thrown his name back into the mix of Tribe prospects. Through 62 games for the Indians new Advanced Class A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats, he has hit .265 with six homeruns and 27 RBI. Gallas has 57 hits on the season, 27 of which are for extra bases. “He’s been working on driving the ball and he’s been doing a great job doing that,” Mudcats manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “He started slow, but the more playing time he’s getting, the more he’s showing that he can handle it. His pitch recognition is above average and he has very good knowledge of the strike zone. He’s going to be able to hit, not only for average, but for power.”
At 24, Gallas is getting a bit long in the tooth for a Class A prospect. Gallas knows that he needs to do the little things to reach his “ultimate goal”. What do Tribe fans have to look forward to with Gallas? “I’d like them to know that they’re getting a player with a lot of charisma,” Gallas said, “someone that is more for the fans, bringing that energy and that hometown feel to the Indians. I know what it means to be a Cleveland fan. Unless you are from there, you don’t really understand. Just everything with LeBron and the Browns. I went to every Browns game this past season, it’s just different.”
So many Cleveland athletes don’t understand what it’s like for the fans of our tortured town. Anthony Gallas gets it. With the college experience working in his favor and a burning passion to bring a title to Cleveland, Gallas still has a chance to fulfill what is everyone’s boyhood dream.
Photo by Nikolaus © 2012 Carolina Mudcats