To begin 2014, 20 year-old 3rd base prospect Joey Gallo received the ambitious assignment to start at High-A Myrtle Beach. As talented as Gallo proved to be in his first two minor league campaigns (he generated 62 homers in just 170 minor league games), some of his detractors reasonably cite an historically atrocious strikeout rate, that went from 30% in 2012 up to 37% in 2013.
So it comes in somewhat surprising fashion, I suppose, that he has held his own (and then some) in the Advanced-A Carolina League so far this year. In only 185 plate appearances, Gallo already has 18 home runs, and is currently rocking the most imposing triple slash line (.342/.459/.795, 234 wRC+) in all of Minor League Baseball.
More importantly, though, has to be the progress he's made in the strikeout department. He's cut his strikeout rate from 37% down to 23.8%, and his walk rate has improved from 10.8% in 2013 to 17.8% this year. Basically, he's playing out the dream scenario of what he hoped he would turn into. To play up to his potential, Joey Gallo has to make contact; the more contact he makes, the less pitchers will want to pitch to him. That has been reflected in his K/BB rates so far this season, though even when they have pitched to him he's been destroying the ball.
He has eight more HRs than the second highest figure in the league. His 33 walks are nine more than the next-best total. His 43 runs are six more than #2. He has the highest average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of anyone with at least 150 plate appearances in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League. HIS ISO IS .482 FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, 180 points higher than White Sox prospect Courtney Hawkins, who checks in at #2.
I've already wasted almost 300 words telling you what you already know: At age-20, Joey Gallo is beasting on Single-A pitching. With how aggressive the Rangers generally push their uber-prospects, a promotion to Frisco figures to be on the horizon sooner rather than later. What he does at Double-A will give us a more accurate portrayal of what we can expect from Gallo; now that he's mastered Single-A, we need to see what he can do where the pitching is more advanced.
This is a prospect to get real excited about.