Joey Gallo's Home Runs Already the Talk of the Town as Rangers Look to Future

Scott Miller@@ScottMillerBblNational MLB ColumnistJune 12, 2015

Kevin Jairaj/USA Today

Joey Gallo's home runs are worth extra words.

No, really.

Matt Hicks, the skilled voice who works alongside Hall of Famer Eric Nadel in the Texas Rangers' radio booth, chuckles about this. You see, most of Gallo's home runs sky so high and travel so far, they carry the hang time of something off the foot of an All-Pro punter.

It is the nightmare of every radio man, of course, to call a home run and then watch the moon-shot fly ball land in an outfielder's glove at the fence. So just in case, when Gallo launches one, Hicks finds himself digging for those extra words to fill those extra couple of seconds before splashdown. Just to be safe.

The extra jaw-flapping, by the way, is not limited only to the broadcast booth. It extends downstairs to the dugout as well.

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 03:  Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers runs the bases after hitting a homerun against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 3, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Im
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

"The power he has is stunning," Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre told B/R the other day. "He has stupid power.

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"He's a guy you want to go see hit. Because, anytime, he can do something special.

"He's definitely the future of this organization."

Gallo was summoned from Double-A on June 2 after Beltre went down with a sprained thumb and immediately started authoring the Legend of Joey Gallo in his first game. Against the White Sox, he missed hitting for the cycle only by a triple. He smashed three hits, including a homer, and knocked in four runs in the greatest big league debut in club history.

Next day, Gallo smashed another homer.

Now, throw this log onto the legend pile: As a kid in Las Vegas, well before he would grow into his 6'5", 230-pound frame, he actually played catcher. One day, when he was behind the plate for his eight- to nine-year-olds team, his friend and teammate Bryce Harper was on the mound.

"He was throwing really hard," Gallo told me. "When he was warming up, he threw a ball in the dirt that bounced up and hit me in the ribs.

"I had to come out of the game and get ice cream. My mom was like, 'You're not catching anymore.' "

He laughs at the memory.

His catching career, curtailed by Bryce Harper.

"He threw like a man, and he was only 46 feet away," Gallo said. "So I was just sitting there watching the rest of the game, eating a Popsicle. I remember that.

"That was one of the last times I ever caught."

There is a picture from those days, little Joey and little Bryce, that recirculated on Twitter right after Gallo's smashing debut earlier this month, and it is precious (Harper is the catcher in this photo, but the two shared that duty back then):

Joey Gallo @JoeyGallo24

Way back in the day when me and @Bharper3407 were 8 and 9 years old! #TBT #moundvisit http://t.co/Sgauqhap9P

"It is a pretty good picture," Gallo said. "I think my mom took it. It was pretty good timing.

"I'd be a really big catcher. I'm glad I'm not. My legs would be real tired."

He is just 21. He was the 39th pick overall in the 2012 draft, and he's been climbing the charts ever since. One reason he got the call from the Rangers so soon is because his maturity matches his size.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said, "Here's a sign for me: All of those veterans in the clubhouse, when they realized how approachable he was in spring training, they were all willing to coach him up."

Texas has not been shy about force-feeding him, either. Following his Shots Heard 'Round the Baseball World debut, the left-hander was back in the lineup the very next night against filthy White Sox lefty Chris Sale.

First at-bat: strikeout swinging.

Second at-bat: strikeout swinging.

Third at-bat: strikeout swinging.

Then, in the ninth, with Sale out and facing another lefty, veteran Zach Duke, Gallo blasted another home run.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 13:  Joey Gallo of the U.S. Team during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Target Field on July 13, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

"He has a nice baseball aptitude," Banister said. "He retains things very well. In those three at-bats against Sale, you could see it.

"In the first at-bat, Sale was throwing pitches he'd never seen before. He hadn't faced anybody in the minor leagues like that.

"In the second at-bat, he was holding his backside in a little more. He wasn't trying to get out and chase."

Third AB, same thing.

"That tells me he was seeing the ball a lot better," Banister said.

There will be more difficult times, of course. Gallo didn't do himself any favors by just missing the cycle in his debut, because that immediately put a target on his back. Since then, he's been seeing fewer fastballs and more breaking pitches.

"It's definitely changed," he said. "I figured I'd see a lot of heaters, but the first day ruined that."

His own fault. See, he should have done a better job of sneaking up on the league.

"I tried to," he said, chuckling. "But now I just have to be patient and take what they give me."

It's something a couple of his famous friends already have had to learn. While he and Harper played together on several Little League and travel league teams growing up, another Las Vegas star, the Cubs' Kris Bryant, was a couple of years older. Gallo knew Kris some, because Gallo's parents, Tony and Laura, are best friends with Kris' parents. While Gallo's older brother, Anthony, 24, actually is Bryant's peer, Joey still vividly remembers Bryant on the field.

"He used to be small back then, but he was always able to hit a ball farther than anybody even then," Gallo said. "He always had ridiculous power."

Jim Cowsert/Associated Press

Sort of, you know, like what they're faced with in Gallo up in the Texas broadcast booth. And what Rangers fans likely can look forward to for a long, long time.

The future of the franchise? Those are some serious words from Beltre. But Beltre has been around for a long while, and his baseball IQ is off the charts.

"He's awesome," Gallo said. "For me, he's been great. If I ever need anything, I go talk to him. He lets me know, 'Come talk to me.'

"He really helps me at third base, where to play certain guys, because I haven't seen them before."

Question is, of course, what happens to Gallo when Beltre returns later this month. If he keeps hitting like he is, the Rangers are going to have to find another position for him that is in Texas.

"I can play wherever," Gallo said.

And here is where you really know he's a team guy: "If they need me to catch, I'll try and figure it out."

Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball.

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