Mar 15, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo (33) throws to first base against the Oakland Athletics at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joey Gallo oozes strength on the baseball field, but he is still incredibly raw. I watched three games on the Texas Rangers back fields this spring in which Gallo got the start, and I got to see a lot of the tools he possesses, but none of those tools led to positive production while I was there. Of course three games is an incredibly small sample size but, even in his poor outings, he flashed incredible potential.
For starters, despite going into this season at the age of 20, he is a full grown man. As he would get into the box and begin to wrench his hands around the handle of the bat, I half expected sawdust to fall to home plate under the incredible strength his massive forearms were surely exerting. His bat is incredibly fast through the zone, showing some finesse in the swing despite the strength and power that should require a “for mature audiences only” warning.
I quickly lost my sense of fear for the baseball, as it too often got merely a cool breeze while he would swing and miss. In the three games I saw, he put the ball in play a grand total of one time, a fly out to left field. Despite being late on the pitch and making poor contact, I still couldn’t help but be impressed by that fly out. The ball actually made the left fielder go back to make the grab as the ball had much more carry than the swing had any business producing.
In his first year of pro ball, he set the record for home runs in the Arizona League, and followed that up with a 40 home run season despite missing almost a month due to injury. He has also managed to strike out an incredible 40.5% of the time, and he hasn’t even advanced past Low-A yet.
In the field, he has a glove that should allow him to stay at third base, and a strong arm. While he does have that strong arm, I saw him bounce the ball off the grass on the way to first just as many times as I saw him hit the first baseman in the chest, so he needs to reel it in a bit. If he can add consistency to his throws and start making more regular contact, he could be something special, but if he doesn’t, he could flame out in a hurry. There is an incredible gap between his ceiling and his floor, but one thing is for sure, he is someone to keep an eye on.
I also got a good look at Luke Jackson in one of his starts. He was working 92-94 MPH with his fastball on a good downhill plane. His change was sitting right about 84 MPH with some good late drop, and it comes out of the same arm slot with the same arm speed of his fastball. I couldn’t get a good grasp of his breaking stuff. I saw some come in around 90 MPH with a bit of run that I believe to be a slider, and I saw a curve with good movement that clocked in at 77 MPH. Neither the slider nor curve were that impressive, but I could see the curve improving into a solid pitch in the future. He is probably going to be a really good fourth starter in time and won’t be big league ready until late-2015, which isn’t sexy, but that could be an important piece to a roster that expects to compete for many years to come.