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Zac Gallen to make MLB debut for Marlins Thursday

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The most dominant starter in the Marlins farm system this season gets his first crack at major league competition.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps a few weeks overdue, right-hander Zac Gallen will be joining the Marlins on Thursday, starting in place of Pablo López. First rumors of this call-up surfaced on r/LetsGoFish (the subreddit for Marlins fans), later confirmed by FNTSY Sports Radio host Craig Mish.

Gallen impressed for the Marlins in spring training, showing elevated velocity and a nasty cutter. But blocked behind slightly more experienced starters, he was sent down to repeat Triple-A.

The 23-year-old has dominated ever since: 1.77 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 33.6 K% in 91.1 IP. And keep in mind, the Pacific Coast League is a notoriously hitter-friendly league, particularly this season with the adoption of a new baseball. As a result, Gallen soared up to the No. 5 spot on updated our top prospects list released earlier this week.

To put things in a league-wide perspective, Roster Resource has MiLB Power Rankings that take into account 2019 performance, age and level of competition for all affiliated prospects. Gallen is the top-ranked pitcher (and has been for the majority of the season).

Updated through June 14
Roster Resource

Although it was quickly deleted, Gallen tweeted “lol” in response to the news that Jordan Yamamoto—our No. 15 Marlins prospect—was selected over him to make his MLB debut last week. He (understandably) took exception considering his superior resume. (Yamamoto has justified the decision with a franchise-record 14 straight scoreless innings to begin his career.)

The Cardinals drafted Gallen in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft, later trading him to the Marlins in the Marcell Ozuna package. The prospect package also included Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra and Daniel Castano. Now, the University of North Carolina product gets to debut against his former organization.

Gallen last pitched for New Orleans on June 14. He was already lined up to start for them on Thursday.

Meanwhile, López was performing well for the Fish (4.23 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 23.3 K%, 1.6 fWAR in 76.2 IP), including an active stretch of four straight quality starts. But all of that has come to a halt, as he’s already been placed on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder strain. He has returned to Miami to undergo further tests.

Before the Gallen call-up is made official, the Marlins must clear space on their 40-man roster. Despite the flurry of player movement on Wednesday, the 40-man remains full. Miami has several DFA candidates (like Tyler Kinley and Peter O’Brien), but could also transfer López to the 60-day IL if the doctors diagnose his injury as a severe strain.