Does Joey Gallo Replace Adrian Beltre As Rangers Third Baseman?
Rangers prospect Joey Gallo possesses two very well-known attributes: 80-grade raw power and extraordinarily high whiff rates. After demolishing the High-A Carolina League where ROTOscouting had a first look, the high-profile third baseman has struggled to the tune of a .232 average since a promotion to Double-A Frisco. Is Gallo the next 40+ home run slugger, or is he the next strikeout-induced bust?
To say Joey Gallo is an impressive physical specimen would be an understatement. Listed at 6-foot-5 and an unrealistically light 205 pounds, Gallo towers above his contemporaries, boasting bulging biceps, forearms, and chiseled frame. The former first round compensation pick is just 20 years old and has room to add even more strength and muscle at full physical maturity.
Joey Gallo won the Carolina League MVP Award with a slash-line of .323/.463/.735 despite playing the majority of the season in the Double-A Texas League. On the year, his 42 home runs sit second only to the Cubs Kris Bryant (Scouting Report). This gives a hint at the type of tools the Las Vegas product possesses and why such a high level of excitement surrounding Gallo exists. However, a .232 batting average and 39.5% K-rate in 68 games in Double-A Frisco illustrate the downsides of the highly debated prospect. Everything Gallo does is loud, whether positive or negative.
Last season, Mike Newman noted;
Gallo was athletic and attempted to adjust to pitches without success. With such a long swing and big frame, it’s difficult to envision him cutting down the strikeouts drastically.
However, Gallo did just that in High-A before an aggressive promotion to the Texas League. Technically, he struck out more in 2014 than 2013, but the third baseman appeared in 15 more games than the previous season. Overall, Joey Gallo did cut the strikeout rate while advancing two levels which is a positive even though he has a long way to go.
The most notorious tool possessed by Gallo, power, is shown well in the above video. Despite surprisingly mundane bat speed, Gallo enjoys the type of prodigious strength to hit balls 400+ feet with ease. Whether he barrels a pitch up, or swings under it, the ball explodes off the bat. The 2014 Futures Game MVP’s raw power is arguably the best since Giancarlo Stanton. However, his long, powerful stroke has holes galore. Fastballs up-and-in and spin down-and-in have given the Rangers top prospect fits since his promotion to Double-A. A This comes as no surprise due to a long swing, combined with slightly above average bat speed.
Joey Gallo starts with a slightly open stance and has a sound bottom half throughout his swing. His knees are gently flexed and timing allows his hips and strong base to generate power. A hitch as Gallo brings his hands back creates unnecessary swing length. The top-ten prospect also has the tendency to stay too far back at the point of contact, flying off of the baseball. This hints at a mindset which may be too focused on hitting home runs as opposed to making strong, consistent contact.
Gallo’s power isn’t his only tool which sits greater than plus. The third baseman shows a plus-plus arm which will allow him to play right field if added size affects his range at his natural position. If Gallo is able to stick at third base, he will match Troy Glaus as the tallest regular to man the position in the 21st century. However, Beyond the Box Score questions the correlation between size and defensive ability at third base (article). At the moment, Gallo possesses adequate quickness and range for a third baseman and mans the spot with average ability. While defense will never be the 2012 draftee’s strong suit, his arm and ability to play multiple positions will allow him to avoid being a hindrance.
Joey Gallo’s makeup is what will allow him to work in the major leagues. He is the stereotypical first-in, last-out guy. Gallo’s business-like approach in batting practice has him constantly working on going the opposite way and adjusting his swing as opposed to solely putting on a power show. Never bet against a guy who has the tools to flourish and a plus makeup to match. Joey Gallo will succeed. If he can keep his K-rate below 30%, he’s an impact talent. If it sits closer to 35%, then punch outs will weigh down his production and leave him as a more of a platoon bat given his difficulties against left-handed pitchers in Double-A.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Starting third baseman on 1st division team Hitting Ability 20 30 Power 55 70 Speed 35 30 Fielding Ability 45 50 Arm 70 70
Owning Joey Gallo
While Gallo has excited prospect followers with his prodigious power and 42 home runs this season, glossing over his deficiencies as if majestic long balls will make Gallo a viable fantasy baseball player is premature. Compare Gallo to Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Carter and other high strikeout sluggers and none of them had a 30+ percent strikeout rate in MILB. Look for a piece soon discussing this at ROTOscouting. Ultimately, Gallo’s value is at its pinnacle and dynasty fantasy baseball owners need to pull the trigger and sell now. With his 39.5% strikeout rate in Double-A and miserable platoon splits the Joey Gallo storybook has the potential for a horror flick ending.
9 Sep 2014 / Grant Schiller / 2
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