It's not very often I'm compelled to write a piece about a single game, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts from last night.
-First and only disappointment (other than Gallo being left in the on-deck circle following the final out in the 8th), AJ Preller does not wear his standout, draft day sport coat to games. We spoke for quite a while and I can tell you that the club feels very good about this year's and last year's drafts. I have no idea about this year's draft, but last year's is lookin' pretty dang good.
-Lots of buzz surrounding Monday night's game, which I missed, following BP, due to a family commitment. I was stopped by no less than 4 ushers, whom I love, on Tuesday and the first thing they wanted to talk about wasn't Joey Gallo's walkoff, but a foul ball he hit in his first at-bat. One of the scoreboard operators told me it was the loudest crack of the bat he's ever heard, and he's been there 7 years. Every usher wanted to point and tell me where the ball had gone. Most had it flying over a cluster of trees about 40 feet to the right of the right field foul pole. All insisted it was still rising as it left the park completely. Most insisted it hit the apartment building in the air. If you've never been to Dr. Pepper Park, most of the ushers are older folks who are full of life and they are some of my favorite people in the world. They all love a good story, and it's clear the tale of Joey Gallo serving notice with a colossal foul ball 1 minute into his first Frisco at-bat, is going to be one of them.
-I watched both Frisco batting practice sessions for Gobbles and his development is just remarkable. I know many of you read the excellent piece McKinney-native Ryan Parker wrote for Baseball Prospectus this week and that's about the best analysis you'll see of how far Joey has come as a hitter in a stunningly short period of time. Baseball is all about adjustments and he's making them at a rapid pace. After killing time watching the Cubs and White Sox minor leaguers in Spring Training, Ryan and I ditched that "Parks" guy, hopped in my super-sexy rented Maxima, and headed over to check out the Rangers, who'd had the morning off. I'd seen Gallo the days before and I believe Ryan had once or twice as well, but while we were gorging on strip-mall pizza I remember us talking about Gallo's swing and how he had some concerns about a lot of the mechanics. He expressed those concerns in his BP piece, then addressed how Gallo has already adjusted from what we saw in February and March. That's pretty damn remarkable and unquestionably exciting.
-Joey hit an opposite field RBI double in the 1st inning by flicking his wrists and launching a ball on the outer half, to the warning track. Then in the 3rd inning, he borrowed Rafa Nadal's backspin and NASA's telemetry to pull a ball off the end of the bat, sending it up into FAA controlled airspace, all before dropping it about 350' from home plate. For all intents and purposes, it was a pop-up. That went over the fence. Here ya go:
-Catching up with the scouts, no one wanted to talk about Gallo. The power is obvious, and expected. They're above that stuff. They expected 80 grade power, saw 80 grade power, wrote down 80 grade power, and filed their reports. Nope, they all wanted to talk about Luke Jackson. I've been trying to explain the growth he's made this year in transitioning from a "thrower" to a "pitcher", but I'm not sure I'm doing it justice. Frankly, I'm not sure how to better articulate how he's developing on the bump, but the scouts were. "That was some nasty, big league ready shit." "He was dominating. Not just winning, dominating." Luke struck out 9 guys in the first 5 innings and 8 of them were swinging. He didn't really use his CH in the first few innings, instead, according to a scout, "inside/outsiding his fastball, then dropping a hammer curve either for a strike or a whiff." I asked around quite a bit about what happened in the 6th when he gave up a couple runs, and the answers were always a very dismissive "just lost fastball command a little." or "guys were laying off the curveball.". But none seemed concerned. Luke was, to all eyes I spoke with, very impressive on Monday night.
-Speaking of impressive, let's talk Chi Chi. Only what appeared to be a botched call of a hit left fielder Trevor Adams appeared to have dove and caught, spoiled what would have been a perfect first outing for Chi Chi. Not metaphorically perfect, literally perfect. His line was 5ip 1h 0er 0bb 6K on a tidy 61 pitches. I saw the high 70's CB, the 82/3-to-87 SL, and the mid-80s CH, but none were the real story for me. They're nice pitches, don't get me wrong. His secondaries are going to be excellent weapons and have tons of room for growth. But sweet geebus, that fastball. Or should I say fastball(s). There's several of them. While not quite Darvishetic, Chi Chi has a varying array of options and velocities and all of them add up to some very off balance hitters. Only a couple of pitches met barrels, and when that happened it seemed as surprising to the hitters as it did to the fans. The 4-seamers were mostly 92-94 and he can cut it or run it. And you can see it. Seriously, sit anywhere behind home plate when he pitches. I've heard from a few catchers who've been on the receiving end of his pitches, that while he obviously knows if he's going to cut it or run it, he still isn't quite sure how much it's going to cut or run. Some move more than others, but they all move. Toss in some sinking 88-92mph 2-seamers and you are looking at a kid with essentially three fastballs all of which he can throw for strikes and none of which (if he's on) allow the batter to put good wood on the ball. Clean mechanics and a solid frame complete the picture that's been drawn for you since he was drafted last summer. This is a rotation piece for the future.
Chi Chi Gonzalez 6.10.14 (via Tepid Participation)
More Chi Chi:
Yeah, so, in summary, you should come see Frisco. I felt like a bad host after last night, as I know I had personally invited thousands of people to the game via the public evite that is Twitter. I'm sorry I didn't respond to the tweets and stuff, but damn, I was captivated. These kids are good. These kids are going to be big leaguers, and there's a good chance they're going to be impactful big leaguers. Come see them again. And again. And again.
Enjoy baseball! Love Ya!
*** EDIT ***
I forgot a couple quick quips:
-Luke was sitting next to me when Gallo hit his homer and he started laughing and said "he's gonna hit 35 for us." I'm all but certain he meant this season. I'm less certain he was kidding.
-Joey scored from first on Ryan Rua's oppo double to the gap and he was motoring. Two scouts I asked on the spot, said they put 5s on his speed. Pretty impressive for a guy his size. It takes a while to get going, but at full gallop he's a silverback tearing down a Virunga mountainside.