On Monday night, the Rangers announced that Joey Gallo would be called-up to replace the injured Drew Stubbs on the team's active roster. The 22-year-old third baseman was batting .265/.415/.639 with 8 HR in 106 PA in his second stint in Triple-A, after struggling mightily at the level in 2015 (.195/.289/.450 in 228 PA). Before delving in any further, however, here is what Michael Schwartz had to say about Gallo in our Rangers top-ten prospects post:
If the Hall-of-Fame admitted players based on jaw-dropping power alone, then Gallo one day could have his own wing at Cooperstown. A supplemental-round pick in 2012, Gallo has averaged a home run every 10.8 ABs in his minor-league career. These are not fence-scrapers, either. When Gallo gets his 6'5"-230 lb. frame behind a swing and then barrels-up a pitch, the results often are majestic. His at-bats already qualify as must-see TV; his June 2 debut in Texas against the White Sox (3-for-4, HR, double, 4 RBI) had MLB Network analysts gushing. Despite 80-grade power, Gallo generated more discussion among our writers than perhaps any other prospect. His strikeout totals are nearly as jaw-dropping as his raw power: 41.2% of his minor-league ABs have resulted in whiffs. At that rate, Gallo would eclipse MLB's single-season strikeout record in less than 550 ABs. Either Gallo will make the necessary adjustments, or major-league pitchers will expose this one enormous flaw in his game, and the latter is as likely as the former, at least early in his career. Even if Gallo fails to cut down on the ghastly strikeout totals, he should remain quite useful as a one-or-two-category stud in roto leagues, though he would be something of an albatross in head-to-head points leagues that penalize strikeouts. If, however, Gallo adjusts to major-league pitching--something he's done at every level he's reached in the minors--then his ceiling as a power-hitter could make him an annual MVP-candidate.
Gallo has improved his contact rate markedly this season, swinging and missing less often, and posting a career-best 22.6% K% (his previous best was 26.0% at High-A, and his career average is 33.9%). He has also managed the best walk rate of his career (20.8%), so it stands to reason that increased selectivity is helping him (1) get on-base more often, and (2) find his pitch and hammer it. If this is the new and improved Gallo, then there really isn't much reason for the Rangers to keep him in the minors (service time concerns aside, of course).
That being said, it is interesting to see how the Rangers will deploy him. Gallo has some experience at first base and in left field, but he has played the hot corner for the vast majority of his career - and Adrian Beltre isn't going anywhere anytime soon. With Stubbs and Shin-Soo Choo on the DL, there should be playing time in the outfield - though the Rangers are currently without a true center-fielder. It seems as though he will be playing somewhere out there for the time being.
A more interesting scenario, though, may involve the Rangers benching and/or trading Mitch Moreland and/or Prince Fielder (the Mets may be looking for a first baseman, on the heels of the Lucas Duda injury). Both are struggling mightily this season, to say the least, with Fielder serving as one of the worst hitters in baseball in 2016. If the Rangers hope to stay in contention, Gallo may well be the team's best option at 1B/DH going forward. There has been no indication that this is the plan as of yet - but I would not be shocked if the Rangers made room for Gallo if he performs, as they did for Nomar Mazara.
Until such a time, however, Gallo is a bit of a risky fantasy play. This may well be a temporary stop-gap, not unlike the Yankees with Gary Sanchez, and hoping for more involves a heavy bit of guesswork. If the Rangers do make space for Gallo, then I would bid confidently - I think he's ready.