• Joey Gallo, 3b, Rangers. High Class A Winston-Salem outfielder Courtney Hawkins is the true king of all-or-nothing power this season. But Gallo isn’t far behind. His power binge continued on Wednesday, as he hit a pair of home runs in the second game of low Class A Hickory’s doubleheader with Hagerstown. The two home runs gave Gallo a minor league-leading 20, and he’s hit five in the past two days.
Because of rainouts, Hickory and Hagerstown played back-to-back doubleheaders, which explains how Gallo’s five home runs have come over a four-game stretch. Gallo’s power ensures that can hit the ball out to all parts of the field, and his two home runs yesterday both went out to center field. Twelve of 16 hits this month have gone for extra bases.
Go to see a Hickory game and you’ll likely see Gallo strike out once, twice or three times. He’s struck out three times in 12 different games this season. He’s struck out four times once. His 102 strikeouts in 64 games this season puts him on pace to strike out more than 200 times this year. He only has eight games this year where he hasn’t struck out, helping to explain why he’s hitting just .236.
But if you focus only on the strikeouts, you run the risk of losing sight of the fact that Gallo’s kind of power is almost impossible to find. It’s the kind of 80-grade power that is worth enduring years of development, because as a 19-year-old, he does have a chance to improve his biggest weakness. Not many hitters can be even remotely productive striking out as often as Gallo does, but then, very few teenagers could even dream of hitting 40 home runs in the South Atlantic League, something Gallo is currently on pace to do.
• Maikel Franco, 3b, Clearwater. Now that Miguel Sano has been promoted to Double-A New Britain, the title of best slugging third baseman in the Florida State League belongs to Franco. He has accepted the crown with a flourish, hitting a pair of home runs for Clearwater on Wednesday night, giving him 14 this year. Playing in a tougher league to hit home runs, Franco has equalled his 2012 home run total in less than half as many games. With his two home runs, Franco also leapfrogged Javier Baez to join Nick Ramirez in a two-way tie for second in the FSL in home runs. With Sano and his league-leading 16 home runs gone, Franco, Baez and Ramirez likely will battle for the home run lead before long.
Byron Buxton, cf, Twins. Buxton’s rampage through the Midwest League continued on Wednesday as he went 3-for-6 with his 15th double. It was Buxton’s third three-hit game in the past five.
The Midwest League is loaded with prospects this year, including the top three high school position players from the 2012 draft—Buxton, the Astros’ Carlos Correa and the Cubs’ Albert Almora—but Buxton stands tall even in exclusive company. He currently leads the MWL in average (.346), on-base percentage (.437), slugging percentage (.568) and runs scored (62). Buxton also ranks second in the league in triples (eight), extra-base hits (30) and total bases (133) and is in the top five in the league in RBIs (49), hits (81), stolen bases (26). His 49 RBIs are even more impressive when you consider that he’s Cedar Rapids’ leadoff hitter.
Cedar Rapids clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday by winning the first-half division title. Buxton is scheduled to play in the MWL all-star game next week. After that, it’s hard to imagine him remaining in the league for much longer, as he has proved that he’s advanced beyond the league’s talent and skill level.