Here’s what Baseball America recently shared on Rangers’ prospect Joey Gallo:
After signing his professional contract, Joey Gallo made the rounds at The Ballpark in Arlington, meeting Rangers executives and players.
Floating on cloud nine, Gallo walked on the field during batting practice and gawked at slugger Josh Hamilton effortlessly swatting upper-deck moonshots, just as he one day hopes to do.
He was in heaven. Until he saw Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.
“Hey Joey,” Maddux said. “I hear you can throw 100 mph and you don’t want to pitch?”
Nearly always self-assured, Gallo’s brimming confidence wilted. He carefully cleared his throat before responding to the watchful guardian of a pitching staff that had advanced to the World Series two straight years.
“I signed as a position player, sir,” Gallo said.
The 18-year-old Gallo felt the pressure mount as he waited what seemed like an eternity for Maddux’s affirmation. Then his father nudged him.
“I said, ‘He’s just kidding, Joey,’ ” Anthony Gallo said. “I’ve never seen him turn red like that.”
Joey could again breathe easy, and concentrate on doing what he’s always loved—swinging the bat—despite being the son of a pitching coach.
“Ever since he picked up a Wiffle ball bat at age 3, Joey always wanted to hit,” Anthony said. “He pitched because he could throw hard, but hitting was his first love.”
Gallo started at third base as a freshman for Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, a program coming off three straight state championships, and hit 21 home runs in his first two seasons before taking his game to a new level.
“My junior year, I started to hit the weight room and began to dedicate myself,” Gallo said.
He became a gym rat, working out under the supervision of teammate Johnny Field’s uncle at 4 a.m. Running in sand pits, TRX suspension training and explosive plyometrics began to fill Gallo’s lean 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame. Flexibility coaches trimmed his 60-yard dash time to 6.9 seconds. Translating these physical gains to hitting improvements, Gallo worked with four-time National League batting champ Bill Madlock.
The lefty-hitting Gallo, who took Greg Maddux’s daughter to the prom, led the country with 25 homers as a junior.
A fixture on the showcase circuit, Gallo became a decorated amateur, starting for USA Baseball’s 18-and-under national team and hitting the 10th-longest homer in Petco Park history during the Perfect Game All-American Game.
“I’ve been scouting since 1996 and Joey probably has the most power I’ve ever seen,” Rangers scout Todd Guggiana said.
Going out on top, Gallo helped the Gaels (40-3) seize a seventh straight state title his senior year, earning All-America honors with a .509/.628/1.167 line, 21 homers and 13 steals. With 67 career homers, he became Nevada’s home run king, placing him sixth on the all-time high school list.
Gallo also posted a 1.54 ERA on the mound, threw a no-hitter and notched 23 strikeouts in 14 innings. Scouts remained enthralled by his high-90s velocity, and many evaluators preferred him as a pitcher. Though some scouts questioned his hit tool, Gallo remained steadfast to his commitment as a hitter entering the draft.
With teams unsure how the new draft rules would affect signing-bonus demands of high schoolers, Gallo, a first-round talent, lasted until the 39th pick.
“We didn’t think he was going to be there when we picked, but were very excited when he was there,” Guggiana said. “We thought he was a top-15 talent.”
For the record, the Yankees could have drafted Gallo. But, they used that pick to take a High School pitcher with an abnormality in his right throwing shoulder instead.