One of the most interesting and debated prospects in baseball is Rangers third base/outfield prospect Joey Gallo. The Las Vegas native is a player who receives a wide range of opinion from the scouting community, and did little in his big league debut to move the needle one way or another.
Gallo has special power- the special 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale that could hit 40 or more homers in any given season without much difficulty. He also walks a ton. While that all sounds great, he also happens to strike out a ton as well- and that's where the debate on Gallo really gets started.
Gallo's minor league history is particularly interesting. It's actually the reason I am so confident in his further development as a player. Everywhere Gallo has gone he has succeeded, but he has also had some initial struggles. Those struggles are something he was able to get past every time, as he learned from his mistakes and made adjustments- something every great hitter does.
After being a first round draft selection in 2012, he had a monster debut in the Arizona Rookie League before being promoted to face more advanced competition in the Northwest League. After hitting .293/.435/.733 in 193 plate appearances with a 27% strikeout rate in the Arizona League, he only hit .214/.343/.464 in 67 plate appearances with a 39% strikeout rate.
In 2013 Gallo spent the entire season in the South Atlantic League minus a small rehab assignment back in the Arizona Rookie League. He had 446 plate appearances in the Sally League and hit .245/.334/.610 with a 37% strikeout rate. He did that in a league that was 2.6 years older than him on average, so the fact he was able to improve at all upon his stint in the Northwest League is impressive.
Things start to pick up for Gallo in 2014, when he started the year destroying the High A Carolina League, hitting .323/.463/.735 in 246 plate appearances to go with his 26% strikeout rate. That's quite the improvement, especially considering he is now 2.9 years younger than the league average. He then got promoted to Double A and was able to hold his own despite being 4.1 years younger than league average. In Double A he had 291 plate appearances, where he hit .232/.334/.524, but struggled with a 40% strikeout rate.
Gallo began 2015 back where he ended 2014, and was still 3.2 years younger than the league average. This time he really adjusted by hitting .314/.425/.636 in 146 plate appearances while striking out 34% of the time. He then moved up straight to the big leagues and hit .204/.301/.417 in 123 plate appearances to go with a very rough 46% strikeout percentage. He was demoted to Triple A, where he seemed to have lost confidence and hit just .195/.289/.450 in 228 plate appearances with a 39% strikeout rate.
Gallo's strikeout rate is the major thing that his detractors point out. It makes sense, as even at his best he seems destined to strikeout in at least 30% of his plate appearances. But as you can see, each year after he struggled with strikeouts he was able to improve the rate despite moving up and facing a more advanced level of competition.
Gallo is intriguing as a power guy that will post a high on base percentage due to all of the walks he takes. In addition he possesses more power than the typical third baseman, as well being a guy that will have outfield eligibility as well to add to his versatility. He may never hit for a high batting average, but he makes adjustments to go along with the fact he is both smart and talented enough to learn from last year's mistakes.
Seeing him post a triple slash line of .240/.340/.550 with 40 homers, 80+ RBI, 80+ runs, and a handful of steals is pretty much something I expect out of him once he continues his development. That makes him very valuable in any league, though I would consider knocking him down a few spots in a league that penalizes you for strikeouts.
He may not be a guy I would target this year until very late in the draft as an upside guy, but in a keeper league I would definitely invest in his future power numbers while playing his home games in Arlington. I firmly believe in Gallo being a special power hitter for the next decade.