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MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Gallo impresses with amazing display of power

Futures Game performance gives Rangers prospect added exposure

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MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Wow! That's the word I heard consistently at the recent SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game regarding left-handed-hitting Rangers third-base prospect Joey Gallo.

Gallo's batting practice was the loudest and most special I've seen at the annual prospect showcase in quite some time. One of his bombs left Target Field and landed in the right-field concourse. During the actual Futures Game, Gallo's winning home run cracked the window of a truck sitting on the plaza. But he had done that before. Gallo broke a car window while playing a road game at Asheville.

Gallo is probably in a dead heat for prospect power dominance with his boyhood friend, Cubs third-base prospect Kris Bryant. The two took batting practice together thrown by Gallo's father. Bryant has awesome power from the right side of the plate.

Gallo was a high school All-American as well as being the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year as a senior at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nev. That year, he hit 21 homers, driving in 80 runs on his way to a .509 batting average. Gallo's high school career total of 67 home runs is a school record.

Gallo was not only known for slugging his way to notoriety at Gorman, he also helped prepare the playing field before the game, taking rake in hand and watering the infield.

An excellent high-velocity pitcher in his past, some teams looked at Gallo first as a pitcher leading up to the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The Rangers selected him in the first round of the 2012 Draft as a combination third baseman/right-handed pitcher. Gallo is ranked No. 2 on the Rangers' Top 20 Prospects list, behind catcher Jorge Alfaro.

As a rookie in the 2012 Arizona League, Gallo hit 18 home runs. Like his friend Bryant, Gallo is built like a slugger. Gallo is 6-foot-5, 205 pounds of solid muscle. The remarkable part of his game is in his swing. Gallo gets tremendous loft and backspin from hands and wrists that are lightning quick through the ball. His swing is a little long with a definite uppercut, but when he connects, he hits "no doubt about it" home runs. They are gone the moment they hit the barrel of Gallo's bat.

Gallo is especially proficient at hitting low fastballs. His swing on those pitches is a blur, as he gets his hands out front and almost golfs the ball out of the park. Gallo has some trouble recognizing and connecting with breaking balls and offspeed pitches.

Although Gallo is showing improvement, making consistent contact has been an issue for him early in his career. Last year, for example, he struck out 172 times playing at two Rangers classifications. Gallo played five games back in the Arizona League, but he spent most of his season playing 106 games for Class A Hickory. He also hit 40 home runs, with all but two of them coming at Hickory. Gallo drove in 88 runs and stole 15 bases. With that home run total, the strikeouts are certainly more bearable.

This season, Gallo began at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, where he hit 21 homers in 246 plate appearances before being promoted to Double-A Frisco in June. His power hitting continues, as he's already in double figures facing advanced Texas League pitching. Still only 21 years old, Gallo could end the season hitting more homers than last year. Additionally, his plate discipline and walk rate are extremely acceptable.

The question regarding Gallo will be the club's tolerance for his potentially high strikeout total. One need only look at the success of Adam Dunn to realize the value a power-hitting, game-changing slugger can have on a team. Dunn's career has included years of massive home run totals and extremely high strikeouts. In 2012, Dunn hit 41 homers and struck out 222 times.

Defensively, Gallo does not have great range or quick reactions at third base. He has a strong and accurate arm, but his footwork is not great. Gallo doesn't run particularly well, but he likely won't clog the bases, either.

In short, Gallo's future comes down to two words: Immense power.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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