Sorry, this is the only Joey Gallo photo in the database. - Rick Yeatts
Taking a look at the #4 ranked player in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings, Joey Gallo
As previously discussed, in a repeat of what we did last year, I'm providing capsule reports on the players who made the list as one of the top 30 prospects in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
As always, I offer the caveat that I haven't seen most of these guys, that I have little in the way of firsthand knowledge, and that I'm trying to aggregate and share the various pieces of information that are out there on these guys.
Joey Gallo is a 6'5", 220 lb. lefty hitting third baseman who was drafted by the Rangers out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gallo impressed the draft evaluators, ranking #23 on Keith Law's list and #33 on Baseball America's list, with ESPN saying Gallo would have been a potential top 10 pick as a pitcher if he'd chosen to focus on pitching rather than hitting. However, Gallo's bonus demands scared off a lot of teams, resulting in his sliding to the #39 pick in the draft, where the Rangers grabbed him with one of the compensatory picks they received after losing C.J. Wilson to the Anaheim Angels. The Rangers signed Gallo for $2.25 million, the highest of any of their 2012 draftees.
The story on Gallo heading into the draft was that, like fellow Ranger first rounder Lewis Brinson, he had some impressive tools, but also had questions about his hit tool. ESPN gave him an 80 power grade, as well as raving about his arm, with those two tools being his most impressive. Baseball America wrote before the draft that Gallo had the 10th longest home run in Petco Park history in 2011 in a showcase game when he was hitting with wood. However, questions about whether he has the range to stay at third base had scouts suggesting that he could end up in right field or at first base in the future. And of course, questions about his hit tool, and whether he'll make enough contact to be able to utilize his hit tool, were why Gallo lasted into the supplemental first round, rather than going in the top part of the first round.
Gallo signed quickly and, in 59 professional games split between the Arizona Rookie League and the short-season A Northwest League, validated both those who loved his power and those who questioned his hit tool. He had an incredible AZL campaign, putting up a .293/.435/.733 line in 193 plate appearances for the Rangers' complex team, hitting 18 home runs and winning league MVP honors. In the Northwest League, against more advanced competition, he continued to flash power, but also had major contact issues, going .214/.343/.464 in 67 plate appearances. Overall, in his first pro season, he had a .272/.412/.660 slash line with 22 homers in 260 plate appearances. He also showed off both his potential and his rawness in the field, impressing with his arm, but making 17 errors in 56 games at third base.
Rankings for Gallo vary widely from source to source. He was ranked third in Baseball America's AZL prospect list, behind only fellow 2012 first rounders Addison Russell (who went #11 overall) and Albert Almora (who went #6 overall). However, he was only #10 on the Baseball America Rangers' list. John Sickels and Jason Cole each ranked Gallo #11 on their respective Rangers prospect lists. I don't believe Jason Parks has released his Rangers top 11 list yet, but my guess is Gallo will be closer to #10 or #11 than the #4 the LSB community voted him at.
However, Scout.com ranked Gallo at #95 in their overall MLB prospect rankings, and Jamey Newberg had Gallo ranked #7 overall in the Rangers' system.
Gallo is a guy with a ton of upside, but with a lot of questions about whether he'll hit enough to actualize the upside potential. He has elite power, but as we've seen before with Chris Davis -- a player with a very similar skill set to Gallo -- if you can't make contact regularly, you're not going to be able to utilize the power tool. And Gallo, who struck out 78 times in 260 plate appearances in his first season as a pro, still has to prove that he can make contact enough for his power to play.
The fallback with Gallo, if his hit tool doesn't develop, is that he could end up returning to the mound. Gallo reportedly has gotten his fastball up to 98 mph, and though he is very raw, he could potentially end up having a future as a pitcher if he doesn't pan out as a position player. As noted above, like fellow Ranger prospect Jurickson Profar, Gallo was more highly regarded as a pitcher by some teams than as a position player.
Where does Gallo go for 2013? My guess is that Gallo starts the 2013 season at Hickory, although given his contact issues and that he didn't exactly set the NWL on fire, it wouldn't be shocking if the Rangers had him stay in extended spring training and then sent him back to Spokane in June to play short-season ball again.
What is the upside for Gallo? He's a three true outcomes player with incredible raw power and unlike, say, Chris Davis, who we mentioned above, Gallo does draw walks. If you really wanted to dream, you could dream of Giancarlo Stanton, although Stanton was drafted when he was a year younger than Gallo, and split his age 19 season between high-A and AA, while Gallo will likely spend the year in Hickory. More realistically, you probably would hope to see Gallo turn into Russ Branyan, another three true outcome type with huge power combined with contact issues.