Joey Gallo’s numbers have been downright silly.
Signed for $2.25 million as a Rangers supplemental first-round pick last month, Gallo has annihilated pitchers in the Rookie-level Arizona League. The 18-year-old third baseman made the most of his only at-bat yesterday, a pinch-hit home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, which the Rangers went on to win in extra innings.
Gallo, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound lefthanded hitter, is now batting .316/.461/.816 (yes, .816) with 13 home runs in 29 games.
“He hits it like nobody I’ve ever seen before as an 18-year-old kid,” Arizona League Rangers manager Corey Ragsdale said.
Gallo leads the Arizona League in OPS and has a big margin over the field in slugging and home runs. He’s gone deep so many times that there are four entire teams in the Arizona League that haven’t hit as many home runs as Gallo.
“He’s got very good bat speed,” Ragsdale said. “He’s obviously a big, strong kid. I mean, he hit a ball (on Monday) that went probably 470 feet. I’m not lying. Over the berm. It was just a huge, huge home run. He just squared it up, but the thing with him is he doesn’t have to square it up. I’ve seen him topspin a ball and it got out very easily. We play in spring training stadiums here too, so it’s not like he’s playing in small stadiums or anything like that. He hits them out to all fields, he doesn’t have to pull them; he can go over the batter’s eye in center field. He’s a big, strong kid with good leverage who squares balls up. That makes for some long fly balls.”
While Gallo’s power has been the talk of the league, he’s more than just a one-dimensional slugger. Gallo also has shown a keen eye at the plate, with the willingness to wait for his pitch and stick to his plan at the plate. Scouts who saw Gallo as an amateur did have concerns about how much he might swing and miss, and he does have 32 strikeouts in 128 plate appearances. Yet he also has 26 walks, which rank second in the AZL.
“He can hit it out to all fields, free and easy,” Ragsdale said. “He’s had very good plate discipline as well. He walked five times in one game. He sees all pitches in all counts and he’s done very good knowing what he wanted to get. If it wasn’t his pitch, he’s been able to lay off, even in good hitters’ counts. He’s still young, so when he does strike out, that’s when he maybe chases pitches, but he’s got a lot of pop.”
Gallo still has plenty of work to do in the field. In 28 games at third base, he’s already committed 10 errors. Gallo has plenty of arm strength—he was clocked as high as 98 mph off the mound in high school—but with his size and lack of range, it’s questionable whether he can stay at the position. Then again, his offense may end up being good enough to carry him wherever he goes.
“The errors he’s made have mostly been throwing,” Ragsdale said. “He’s got a very good arm. They’ve mostly been throwing, where he just hasn’t got himself in good position to get the ball to first base. We’re not worried about that at all. We think that’s an easy fix. We’ve just got to get his feet going a little bit after the catch. Other than that, the glove’s been good lately.”