With Rangers third baseman and potential future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre going down with a thumb injury, the team is calling up top prospect Joey Gallo. The 21-year old Gallo was the 8th overall selection in the 2012 draft and entered the year at #6 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list. Since being drafted out of high school in Las Vegas, Gallo has displayed immense power in the Minors that has only been matched during that time by Cubs third baseman and #1 on Baseball America’s prospect rankings, Kris Bryant, also a Las Vegas product (add Bryce Harper to that list and Vegas is producing some powerful hitters in recent years). So to be in the same company as Bryant in terms of power and pedigree shows the talent of Gallo, a left-handed swinger. But for fantasy baseball, will Gallo be a hot pickup or a mild taste for the palate?
As mentioned, like everything in Texas, Gallo’s raw power is bigger than most. In 2013 at A-ball, he demolished 38 HR in just 106 games. In 2014 splitting time between high-A and AA, he hit 21 HR at each level for a combined 42 HR in 126 games on the season. And this year so far at AA once again, Gallo isn’t quite on the same monstrous pace but he has 9 HR in 34 games. However, like a lot of power hitters out there, Gallo’s big flaw at the plate is his propensity to strikeout. Out of all his time in the Minor League levels, he has amassed a strikeout rate of 33.9%, and this is where he lags a bit behind Bryant in terms of future outlook. Bryant strikes out a lot himself, but at 26.5% in the Minors, Bryant was a good amount ahead of Gallo before he made his Major League debut earlier this season.
So with the high strikeout rate, Gallo has had a difficult time hitting for a good AVG with consistency as he progresses through the Rangers Minor League system. He holds a career .268 AVG, but is currently hitting .314 at AA this season. So perhaps he is making some strides? Well, he likely is improving some, but the .314 AVG is also being driven by a .453 BABIP, something that is surely unsustainable at the Major League level.
Another thing to point out is that Gallo has really struggled against left-handed pitching ever since he was promoted to AA last season with a .176 AVG and 6 HR in 74 AB and a whopping 53.4% strikeout rate, compared to a .283 AVG with 24 HR in 297 AB and a 33.9% strikeout rate versus righties. So while the HR per AB are split evenly, it is pretty clear to see that facing same-handed pitchers is a huge flaw for him at the moment.
The Rangers have been having Gallo see some time in the outfield over the last couple of weeks to give him some extra versatility and a more clear path to the Majors, and a little bit of positional flexibility never really hurts anyone. The assumption though is that the Rangers will send Gallo back down to the Minors once Beltre is ready to return, so this does seem like a bit of a peculiar promotion. Gallo just started learning a new position in the Minors, he has some severe contact making issues, and he is getting destroyed by left-handed pitching. So to promote him and give him a taste of the Majors without even having played a single game at AAA yet seems like a move that can backfire on them. He definitely has colossal power potential, but if he struggles in this stint in the Majors then that surely won’t boost his confidence.
For fantasy purposes, the flavor of this pico de Gallo is a bit mild for my taste buds as I am a spicy kind of guy. I would not expect much at all out of Gallo for however long this stint may be nor for the rest of the season. He might pop a few HR, but I don’t feel the AVG should be there. However, he actually does have a favorable schedule in the next two weeks. Opposing teams are only scheduled to start two lefties, and those are back to back games on June 3-4 with Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon taking the bump. But other than that, there are some righties that he surely could take advantage of.
If by some chance he does succeed during this call up, I don’t even know if there would be a place on the roster for him when Beltre returns. The Rangers already have Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder to cover first base and DH duties, and they already have a crowded outfield situation with the emergence of Delino DeShields and return of Josh Hamilton to go along with Shin-Soo Choo and Leonys Martin.
However, I would not say to completely avoid scooping Gallo off the waiver wire if you can spare the room. With the top ranked prospects like this, it’s worth a flier to pick them up and take a wait and see approach if you can afford the time and roster spot to do so. But just know what type of player that you are getting and to temper the expectations. For keeper and dynasty leagues though, he is surely someone to target for his raw potential.