Joey Gallo Scouting Report (2014)
An evaluator drives around for hours, sometimes days (a shout-out to our faithful editor in chief Mike Newman) looking to see something to cause their jaw to hit the floor. All of this driving turns up plenty of guys with average tools; it even leads to a smattering of plus tools. Sometimes, they see something they’ve never seen before. On Sunday night, I saw Joey Gallo. It was exciting to walk into Five County Stadium for a 6:00 PM showdown between the hometown Carolina Mudcats (Cleveland Indians High-A affiliate) and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers High-A affiliate). After seeing what the Rangers had to offer a few weeks ago in Hickory, it was time to to see scout last year’s top Crawdads deemed ready to the next developmental rung in the ladder.
The first few batting practice groups were bland. An occasional batter would barrel a baseball well, but nothing that made this batting practice session special. When a hulking left-handed batter strolled to the plate, a sudden seriousness came about the air in the park. Scouts in attendance put their phones away. Other players turned to watch. Gallo didn’t disappoint and set an example for what 80 raw power looks like.
Gallo presented with 80 raw power in batting practice and the ability to drive the balls with backspin to all fields. His swing has a natural uppercut, but it’s not a long term concern. What is problematic is the 20-year old pulls his front shoulder off the ball in game action, which negatively affects his ability to drive the ball the other way against live pitching. This tendency also puts Gallo at risk to struggle with balls on the outer half, as well as quality off-speed pitches low in the strike zone.
The High-A slugger did not show a natural feel for the barrel. But when Joey Gallo hits the baseball, he makes the most of it. In game action, solid contact was made, but the quality of pitching was poor across the two game look. He struggled with fringe off-speed offerings and frequently swung over them. This issue of swing adjustments is recurring theme for Gallo (initially mentioned after Mike Newman scouted Hickory last season), and it causes serious questions about the hit tool. Swinging through three consecutive 30 pitches is not going to help Gallo build a case for future MLB success.
Joey Gallo stands at an enormous 6-foot-5 and weighs every pound of his listed 232 pounds. He is a quick-twitch athlete, with fluid movements in the field and a calm demeanor about him in the box and in between plays. Gallo has long limbs and broad shoulders — filled out with lean muscle. Gallo’s frame is mature, and he’ll have to maintain his present size to avoid a move to first base.
Defensively, Gallo has a chance to be an average third baseman. Blessed with a 70 arm, he can make all of the throws expected of a big league third baseman. His reactions and athleticism are also positives. Additional size will cause Gallo to slow down, limiting his range and wrecking the defensive profile. Already a below-average runner, Joey Gallo settles in as a 30 runner at full physical development.
Instinctively, one has to question Gallo in the field, as he would often run into the middle of plays and field balls where it was not necessarily the third baseman’s job to do so. While this is a minor complaint, it is one worth registering as the 20-year old will have to continue to evolve and understand the responsibilities he has (and does not have). Charging out into left field and stepping in front of the left fielder to grab a ball is not the smart play; Gallo can hardly be faulted for a take-charge attitude, but some limits would not hurt him.
Putting the pieces together, Joey Gallo is a vexing prospect. 80 raw power is nothing to be tossed aside. Gallo will have to make major improvements to his hit tool in order for the power to translate, however, which is easier said than done. The name that comes to mind as a comparison to Gallo in terms of future production (not tools) is Mark Reynolds.
Tool Present Future FUTURE ROLE: FRINGE EVERYDAY 3B Hitting ability 20 30 Power 45 65 Speed 40 30 Fielding ability 35 50 Arm 70 70
Owning Joey Gallo
Reynolds once hit 44 home runs and was worth more than three WAR, but has been sporadic at best throughout his career. An average third baseman with the ability to hit 40 home runs in any given season (plus some rather ugly batting averages) is nothing to scoff at. While Joey Gallo is not a perfect comparison, Reynolds shows that a player of Gallo’s skillset can provide value to a major league team.
29 May 2014 / Spencer Schneier / 5
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