It's Time to Get Ready for the Power of Joey Gallo
You know how everyone is saying there is a power drain in Major League Baseball? Well, new Texas Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo may be able to fix that all by himself.
The team's long-time third baseman, future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre, sprained his thumb on Sunday, an injury that could keep him on the disabled list for about a month. That prompted the team to call up Gallo from Double-A, bypassing Triple-A, straight to the Majors. He's expected to get the start on Tuesday.
Gallo is one of the best prospects in all of baseball, seen as the best power hitter in the minors now that Chicago's Kris Bryant is no longer abusing Triple-A pitching. He came into the season as Baseball America's number-six prospect, the ninth overall prospect by MLB.com, and the number-15 prospect as rated by Baseball Prospectus.
In 146 plate appearances this year the 21-year-old Gallo hit .314/.425/.636 with a 1.061 OPS, nine home runs, 21 runs, 31 RBIs, a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .468 and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 192. Everywhere he's hit in the minors, he has pounded the ball, launching 38 homers in 2013 and 42 over two levels last year.
The sweet-swinging left-hander is an immediate play in your fantasy lineups right now, thanks to sweet swings like this.
And he also did this at the Futures Game last year, complete with a pretty sweet bat flip.
I know everyone has seen it, but here's Joey Gallo bomb dot gif, because you can never watch it too much. http://t.co/buhdklRhN8— Kazuto Yamazaki (@Kazuto_Yamazaki) July 14, 2014
Of course, there is one major drawback to Gallo's game, and it has to do with making actual contact with the baseball.
You see, the youngster has a tendency to whiff quite a bit, with 478 strikeouts in 1,177 professional at bats. That's a staggering 40.7% of his pro at-bats have ended in strikeouts. This year he has struck out in about one-third of all his plate appearances (33.6%), but his power also forces pitchers to walk him quite a bit, with a 16.4% walk rate this year that is higher than it has been in years past.
However, that kind of strikeout rate has become the norm for this new batch of young power hitters.
|Name||Team||K% (MLB rank)|
|Chris Carter||Astros||35.2 (3)|
|Jorge Soler||Cubs||35.2 (4)|
|Giancarlo Stanton||Marlins||31.1 (5)|
|Kris Bryant||Cubs||29.9 (6)|
|Joc Pederson||Dodgers||29.5 (8)|
|George Springer||Astros||28.4 (10)|
The six players listed above are among the best young power hitters in the game, and all have strikeout rates in the top 10 in the Major Leagues. It also doesn't count Chicago's Addison Russell, who has a strikeout rate of 35.3% and a slugging percentage of .438, but does not have enough at bats to qualify among the league leaders.
Perhaps the best comparison would be Cubs minor leaguer Javier Baez, who has power comparable to Gallo but also strikes out 25-30% of the time as well.
So here's what to expect. Gallo is going to strike out at least one-third of the time. He's also probably going to take a while to get the power bat going, just like Bryant did. But when he does connect, the ball is going to go a very long way, and it's not unreasonable to think Gallo couldn't hit 20 homers in just a few months of big league action.
The real question will be what happens when Beltre is ready to return. There's nowhere for him to play in a corner outfield spot, with Josh Hamilton and Shin-Soo Choo there. Prince Fielder is the DH and Mitch Moreland has done a decent job at first, although if anyone would be moved, it would be Moreland.
Regardless if Gallo is guaranteed a spot after Beltre comes back, he's worth owning right now.
So, get ready for the power display kids. And to anyone sitting in the outfield at Ranger games, make sure to bring a glove.