Serving as the designated hitter for the U.S. squad, Gallo, 20, provided the decisive blow in his team’s 3-2 victory, as the slugger launched a monstrous, no-doubt, go-ahead two-run home run onto the concourse in right-center field with one out in the sixth inning.
Typically, a player will say he was simply trying to make good contact or hit the ball hard up the middle. But Gallo didn't beat around the bush with his approach during the at-bat.
"After the first two at-bats I just wanted to make contact and not embarrass myself too much by striking out," he said, per Josh Norris of Baseball America. "I got a 2-0 pitch and was just like, 'I'm going to try to hit this one out.'"
Unsurprisingly, Gallo’s tape-measure blast—measured at 419 feet, according to MLB Network’s live broadcast—led to him being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The baseball world already was buzzing about Gallo, whose 31 home runs headed into the event had him tied with teammate Kris Bryant for the highest total in the minor leagues.
Specifically, the 6’5”, 205-pound left-handed hitter single-handedly blew up Twitter with his pregame batting practice, smashing balls into uncharted territory on the right-field concourse at Target Field. Here’s what those in attendance had to say:
Meanwhile, the folks at Baseball America were kind enough to offer fans video of Gallo’s historic BP session:
However, the highlight of Gallo’s impressive BP was a titanic blast that shattered the windshield of a pickup truck displayed well beyond where his in-game home run landed, per the All-Star Game’s Twitter feed:
After striking out in his first two at-bats of the game, Gallo stepped to the plate in the sixth inning with a runner on second base and the U.S. trailing the World Team, 2-1. What happened next will surely go down in Futures Game history:
Judd Zulgad of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities perfectly summed up the prodigious blast:
So, what does the future hold for Mr. Gallo?
Beyond his legitimate 80-grade power—the kind of power actually worthy of a comparison to Giancarlo Stanton—Gallo has shown better plate discipline and pitch recognition this season, as he’s improved both his strikeout (31.2 percent) and walk rates (18.0 percent) and hit for a high average (.307) without sacrificing any power (.703 slugging, .397 isolated power).
Furthermore, Gallo’s overwhelming progress this season also has put him on the fast track to the major leagues.
Gallo began the season by batting .323/.463/.735 with 21 home runs in 58 games at High-A Myrtle Beach, and the Rangers were quick to offer him a well-deserved promotion in early June to Double-A Frisco. The 20-year-old hasn’t skipped a beat despite the uptick in competition, as he entered the weekend boasting a .277/.371/.644 batting line and 10 home runs through 27 games.
However, just because Gallo is on pace to club upward of 50 home runs doesn’t mean we’ll see him debut with the Rangers before season’s end.
Though he’s been developed as a third baseman since entering the Rangers system, Gallo’s best chance at reaching the major leagues this year will be as a first baseman (or designated hitter), as the team is expected to be without left-handed hitters Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland for the rest of the season due to respective injuries.
In their place, the organization recently has been forced to employ the likes of Carlos Pena and Chris Gimenez at the position, though both players are considered temporary fill-ins for the scuffling Rangers.
Still, it makes little sense for the Rangers to audition Gallo at first base this season, with Fielder expected to be healthy for 2015 and still regarded as a big part of the team’s future.
Rather, the team will presumably keep Gallo in the minor leagues for the rest of the year and allow him to thoroughly develop on both sides of the ball; believe it or not, the 20-year-old is in need of further refinement before he’s ready for a crack at the highest level.
Therefore, expect Gallo to reach the major leagues sometime next year as the team grooms him to potentially take over for third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is set to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
That being said, it’s already clear that no park will be able to hold Joey Gallo once he arrives in the majors.
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