Joey Gallo is the most exciting thing that's happened to the Rangers in 2015, which is crazy, because there have been so many positives to take in from the first three months.
I suppose it's really just a matter of taste amongst Texas fans, and maybe I'm biased since Gallo is my favorite prospect in the organization, someone I got a chance to talk to in Surprise a couple spring trainings ago when he was 19, about to enter Hickory for his first full season in the minor leagues.
It also may be because Joey's ascendance coincided so much with the hottest stretch of the season for the Rangers. Winners of 11 of 14 before Joey Gallo arrived on June 2nd, the club then won 10 of their next 15, a stretch that included Gallo producing a breakthrough .260/.362/.580 (150 wRC+) triple slash line with 5 HR in 58 plate appearances. There is no question that the guy is going to be big time.
But Joey Gallo is not ready yet.
And that's OK.
Since his earlier success, Gallo has hit a wall over the las week, going 3-22 with one extra-base hit (a double), one walk, and 13 strikeouts. This, after all, was the built-in expectation all along: for all the excitement Gallo brings, the dude strikes out at an incredible rate.
When he was originally called up from Double-A Frisco, general manager Jon Daniels was fairly adamant in saying once Adrian Beltre returned from his stint on the disabled list, Gallo would resume his learning process back on the farm, in Round Rock.
But then, Josh Hamilton got hurt. Then Delino DeShields. And suddenly Gallo's bat became a sensation, getting many media types saying it was going to be impossible to send him back down. And, hey, maybe they were right at the time. I mean, we can dream, right?
But now the Rangers are at a different point in the season. Adrian Beltre is back playing 3rd base, and Gallo's presence in the lineup is beginning to feel more like an hourglass that's on its last bit. With Josh Hamilton about ready to return, probably on Monday in Baltimore, and Delino likely coming back within the next week, it seems more logical to roll with the team's 25-best players right now.
What we know is, the Rangers are not going to keep Gallo on the major league roster unless he's seeing consistent at bats. If he isn't, his purpose is better served working out some of the kinks at Triple-A.
Amazingly, in his first 81 career plate appearances, Joey has generated a league-average .222/.309/.458 (100 wRC+) slash line despite having struck out 34 times, a 42% clip. That is the highest in MLB for any player this season with over 80 PAs, an understandable figure for someone with his minor league track record.
What can't be lost from Gallo Mania, is that Joey Gallo wasn't in the plans this early in his career. Only 21, he could probably use a little extra seasoning on the farm, and with Beltre already back, it's only a matter of when Texas's two outfielders return that will likely determine how much longer Gallo is with us. And that's okay, because he has already done enough.
Looking towards the bigger picture, the hope going forward is that, once Joey is sent down, he will be on a similar path as Rougned Odor, whom the Rangers dumped to Round Rock after rough beginnings in 2015. Since Roogie's recall ten days ago, he's 9-23 (.409/.480/.591, 200 wRC+) with one HR, one 2B and seven runs driven in. Aside the obvious disclaimer that it won't last forever, it's a step in the right direction after Odor tore up Pacific Cast League for a month and a half.
Gallo is not one of the Rangers 25 best players right now, but, barring injury that would force him to get recalled prematurely as he was the first time, I could easily see him as one of the 25 best by the time he comes back, perhaps towards the end of July depending how well he responds once he is sent down.
Under the Jon Daniels regime, the Rangers have had a history of drafting and acquiring whom they believe to be high-character players. "Good makeup" is the scout slang, I guess. Gallo, like Odor and like many (or most) others on the farm and major league roster, is one of those guys. His June 2nd callup wasn't the culmination of his minor league development, because when he debuted it was incomplete. His major league career started when future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre went down with a thumb injury, and Gallo merely gave Texas a necessary spark it needed during the club's best stretch of the season.
As much as I love watching him play, I like more knowing my favorite team wants to get this right. They have a plan, and I can assure you they will not be consulting me about it, but sending Gallo down seems like the only rational way to go once Hamilton and DeShields are reinstated from the DL.