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

Published by Bleacher Report on Fri, 12 Jun 2015

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 into 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."The power he has is stunning," Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was telling B/R the other day. "He has stupid power."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 Triple-A on June 2 when 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 missedhitting for the cycleonly by a triple. He smashed three hits, including a homer and knocked in three runs in the greatest big-league debut in club history.Next day, Gallosmashedanother 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 8-9-year-olds team, his friend and teammate Bryce Harper was on the mound."He was throwing really hard," Gallo was telling 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 says. "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 re-circulated on Twitter right after Gallo's smashing debut earlier this month, and it is precious:"It is a pretty good picture," Gallo says. "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.Says Rangers manager Jeff Banister: "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."He has a nice baseball aptitude," Banister says. "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 says.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 says. "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 says, 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. He 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 says. "He always had ridiculous power."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 says. "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, not Triple-A Frisco."I can play wherever," Gallo says, 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 onTwitterand talk baseball.
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