There is something about having the ability to hit a baseball for tremendous distances that captures the imagination. Seeing highlights or hearing tales of a prospect that can hit the baseball literally out of minor league ballparks is certain to excite the fans, making them anxious to see that player come up to the major league level and contribute. The Texas Rangers have that type of player in Joey Gallo.
Just look at Gallo’s production last season. Across two minor league stops, Gallo posted a .271/.394/.615 batting line, slugging 42 home runs and even chipping in seven stolen bases. Along with fellow wunderkind Kris Bryant, Gallo may be the power bat presently in the minors.
Despite the fact that Joey Gallo underwent surgery on left heel and is expected to miss three weeks or so, it seems inevitable that he will be making his major league debut at some point this season. Should the Rangers struggle out of the gate, it may just be a matter of time before they will look to move on from Adrian Beltre and insert Gallo into the lineup.
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However, there is no guarantee that Gallo will be able to be that same power hitter that he has been in the minors. While his overall numbers for last season were quite spectacular, his tremendous performance with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans masked a sharp dropoff with the AA Frisco RoughRiders. In his 68 games at the AA level, Gallo hit 21 home runs, yet he slumped to a .232/.334/.524 batting line, striking out 115 times in 291 plate appearances.
Joey Gallo’s struggles were not just a manifestation of his 39.5% strikeout rate. His line drive rate was only 16.8% in Frisco, below the 18.3% league average. Meanwhile, Gallo had a 45.3% fly ball rate. Both percentages were in line with his performance at Myrtle Beach, so it could have just been a rough adjustment to a better caliber of pitching.
Those struggles, coupled with Gallo’s prodigious power, will make him fascinating to watch over the early part of the 2015 minor league season. While that heel injury may lead to a slower start for Gallo, if his contract rate is improving, that would be a positive indication that he is able to make the adjustments needed to succeed at the higher levels.
The 2015 season will be very interesting for the development of Joey Gallo. If he bounces back and continues to excel, this season could end up with Gallo as the Texas Rangers new everyday third baseman.