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Joey Gallo is back, and striking out less

Joey Gallo's 2016 season has featured a significant drop in his strikeout rate, so far

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers called up Joey Gallo yesterday, a move that was a surprise to just about everyone, and a move whose implications going forward still aren't terribly clear.  Gallo and Jared Hoying were called up to replace Shin-Soo Choo and Drew Stubbs, both of whom were placed on the d.l., but it is unknown whether Gallo is going to be here for a while, or if he's just keeping a spot on the bench warm until Rougned Odor's suspension starts, at which point Jurickson Profar will replace him.

Gallo missed a couple of weeks with a left groin injury, but overall has been mashing in Round Rock...but more importantly, his K rate has plummeted.  Gallo has just 24 Ks in 106 plate appearances for Round Rock this season, a 22.6% K rate, after fanning in 39.5% of his AAA plate appearances last year (and over 40% of his major league plate appearances).  That is the lowest rate he's ever had in the minor leagues, and appears to be the by-product of a conscious effort to improve that aspect of his game.

Keith Law's updated top 25 prospect list is out today, and he has Joey Gallo at #10 (even though Gallo is technically no longer eligible since he was called up yesterday).  Law praises the improvement Gallo has shown in cutting down his strikeouts, and says Gallo would be an upgrade over Prince Fielder now.  Fangraphs, meanwhile, also has a piece on Gallo today, saying he "looks primed to put up some crooked power numbers."

The big question, though, is whether Gallo is actually going to get the opportunity to put up big numbers.  With Shin-Soo Choo out 3-4 weeks, this seems like a good opportunity to let Gallo play left field every day, with Ryan Rua either platooning at first base, or simply starting against lefties at one of the COF/1B/DH positions where Jeff Banister wants to give a regular a day off.

Complicating this opportunity for Gallo is the imminent suspension of Rougned Odor.  But for the suspension, you could make a case for simply rolling with this alignment until Gallo shows he needs more time in AAA or until Choo comes back, with the potential upside being that Gallo hits so well he forces the Rangers to keep him up in an everyday role, which would require the Rangers to make some hard decisions about Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder.

If the Rangers are going to call Profar up once Odor is suspended, however, and if the Rangers are going to keep a utility infielder on the roster, then Gallo is going to end up losing his roster spot, as the Rangers go to a three man bench of Hanser Alberto, Jared Hoying, and a backup catcher.

Odor's appeal is going to be heard today, and a decision should come down soon thereafter -- one would think Odor will start his suspension tomorrow, at which point we will know what the Rangers are going to do in his absence.  But the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of using Gallo in left field while Choo is gone, and figuring out another way to deal with the Odor suspension.