In baseball, every once in a while there comes a player that makes us rethink what players are actually capable up. Ty Cobb redefined what we thought was the ceiling for contact hitting. Cal Ripken Jr. redefined what we thought durability was. Billy Hamilton has redefined how fast we thought a baseball player can be. Joey Gallo will redefine how far a baseball can be hit. 80 grade power might look like this, this, or this. But I believe it looks more like this.
Those first three homers were from some of the most powerful hitters in the game right now with Bryce Harper, who Joey played baseball with as a child,
— Joey Gallo (@JoeyGallo24) January 16, 2014
Giancarlo Stanton, and previous Ranger farm hand Chris Davis. Joey Gallo only turned 20 last November, and while he was still a teenager he already had several records. The video above is in an exhibition game in 2011 while Gallo was in high school. That homer was the 10th longest in Petco Park history. He was 17 at the time. Here are the home run records Joey Gallo has to his name, all of which he received before his 20th birthday. Single season Nevada high school record: 25 homers 2010-2011 (39 games played Junior year). Career Nevada high school record: 67 homers (160 games played 4 seasons age 14-18). Arizona Rookie League record: 18 homers 2012 (43 games played, missed 13 games age 18). Hickory Crawdads single season record: 38 homers 2013 (missed 33 games age 19). Had he not missed those 33 games, Joey Gallo would have most certainly demolished the low A record of 42 homers in a season.
But that’s enough ogling over his young records for now. Joey grew up and went to high school in Las Vegas Nevada. He bats from the left side, throws right handed, and plays third base with more tenacity and skill than most critics give him credit for. A hulking figure standing in at 6′ 5″ and 220 lbs, Gallo both played third base and pitched in high school. His strong arm allowed him to reach the mid 90′s with his fastball in high school and most teams and scouts at the time of the draft wanted him to pitch, but that was not what Joey wanted. He and the Rangers both knew that his bat was going to take him to great heights and the club was more than happy to take him off the mound and stick him in the hot corner. Scouts dropped him at the time of the draft for their criticism of his ability to make consistent contact, though it probably wasn’t because of his senior year average where he hit .509 in 40 games. Teams not in residing in Arlington were also scared off by his high bonus demands. The Rangers drafted Joey 39th overall in the June 2012 draft with the compensation pick they received from losing C.J. Wilson. Thanks C.J.! The club also gave Gallo the largest bonus of any draft pick that year with $2.25 million.
In his first season of professional baseball, Joey Gallo was at it again breaking home run records in the Arizona Rookie League with 18 in his first 41 professional games. In those first games he took a large step towards removing doubts about his ability to make contact putting up a slash line of .293/.435/.733 and amassing a strikeout to walk ratio of 37/52 in 193 plate appearances. He received a late season promotion to short season Spokane where he added 4 more bombs in 16 games and a less impressive slash line of .214/.343/.464.
2013 was the year in which young Joey Gallo showed that not even a full season grind could damper his tremendous power. He hit 38 homers in low A with the Hickory Crawdads and added 2 more in a rehab assignment with the Arizona Rookie League team making him the first to do so since the 1960′s. This insane display of power earned Gallo a trip to the MLB All Star weekend in New York to play in the futures game. Gallo was one of two Ranger farmhands selected to the futures game, the other was catching prospect Jorge Alfaro. Unfortunately for the spectators, both young players were precluded from playing in the exhibition because of injuries. Alfaro had been hit by a pitch on the hand and Gallo had sustained a groin injury which sidelined him for a large portion of July.
For Joey Gallo, 2013 was not all roses and butterflies. Though he did not take home the strikeout title, that belonged to teammate Lewis Brinson with 191, Gallo did have a higher strikeout rate than Brinson with 37%. Joey had 165 K’s in 446 plate appearances to go with 48 walks last year. The walk rate is decent but the strikeout rate is worrying. There are not a large number of players who have that kind of k rate at the lower levels that go on to have prolonged big league careers. There also are not a large number of players, if any, that have Gallo’s ridiculous ability to loft almost any pitch in the air and send it effortlessly 400 feet out of the ball park.
I will not get into Gallo’s swing or mechanics today as I would have to turn this article into a hard backed book. Nathaniel Stoltz has a fantastic article for Fangraphs all about Gallo’s swing, defensive and base running ability, and much much more good stuff of that nature. I would highly suggest giving it a read if you are into this type of thing, and I’m assuming that you are if you’re reading this. All I will say about Gallo’s swing mechanics is that if he can cut down on his advances loading mechanism without losing much or any of his power that he could be a remarkably successful major leaguer.
Some final notes on Gallo before I wrap this all up. Joey Gallo gets high points for his work ethic and ability to stick to something once he puts his mind to it. He stuck to the fact that he was going to play the field and not pitch at the next level and he made it happen. Some scouts think that Gallo will have to move to first base or right field because of his range. Joey Gallo thinks differently though. Joey is a smart man, he knows that he needs to improve and this off season chose some fantastic mentors to work with five days a week in his home of Las Vegas. For his defensive prowess, Gallo worked with the gold glove 6′ 3″ short stop Troy Tulowitzki. For his strike zone discipline, he chose a veteran with 19 years of MLB experience under his belt: Jason Giambi. Joey’s defense has been solid, though he has an absolute cannon for an arm, he doesn’t make the common mistake of trying to unleash the cannon on every single throw. He plays very controlled in the field, and appears much more advanced than most others his age. Joey Gallo’s defensive ability is very key because The better his glove, the less pressure that will be placed on his bat. Joey is also an above average base runner stealing 14 bases in 15 tries last year at Hickory. He is by no means a speedster, but he is a heady base runner and goes all out on the bases which gained him 5 triples last year.
One note about Joey’s fantastic fly ball rate of 21.9%. Joey has only grounded into two double plays in his minor league career. ONLY 2! For a guy who sends even weakly hit fly’s into the cheap seats, that is an unbelievable achievement. It was very nice of Joey last night as I was doing my research to turn on his power switch last night and crank out his first two homers of the season and his first double of the season as a part of a 4-4 game that might be the start of a nice hot streak. Gallo has some serious tools that could make him a force at the next level, but there is still a long way to go and a large amount of adjustments to be made before he reaches the show, but if he can put it all together at the highest level then no pitcher is safe from the wrath of the bat of Joey Gallo. On his current trajectory to the big leagues, Gallo would hit MLB ready right as Adrian Beltre’s contract is expiring. But who knows what will happen between now and then. All I know is that I can’t wait for Gallo to reach Frisco so I can see some of those moonshots for myself.
Scouting Grades: Hit: 40 Power: 80 Run: 45 Arm: 75 Field: 50