At bat or on mound, prep star Gallo a winner
Powerful Bishop Gorman third baseman also can throw 100 mph
The biggest adjustment Joey Gallo will have to make if and when he joins the pro ranks is that winning a title isn't an annual occurrence as regular as Memorial Day or New Year's Eve.
Gallo, the powerful third baseman for Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, just wrapped up his high school career with one more state title. That makes Gallo 4-for-4 in championships won, with Bishop Gorman currently riding a seven-year title streak.
"It'd be very disappointing [not to win]," Gallo said. "It's definitely a good thing for me. It helps you play harder to play up to that standard. If you don't win the last game of the season, it's not a good season."
Gallo's team goals have been met, and he certainly had a lot to do with it. Though he was largely pitched around -- he was walked six times in the three-game march to the title -- he did hit a home run (his offensive calling card). He also pitched two innings, striking out five and picking up the save (more on that part of his game later).
Things haven't always gone right for Gallo in this, his Draft season. He and Bishop Gorman came to USA Baseball's National High School Invitational in late March with high expectations as one of the top-ranked teams in the nation. Things didn't go as planned for the team or its star. Bishop Gorman went 1-2 at the tournament and Gallo picked up just one hit, in his final at-bat. It was, to say the least, a humbling learning experience.
"When we went to North Carolina, I was pressing a little," Gallo said. "I was trying to hit a home run every at-bat and win the game myself. There's pressure, but I've found going through the season, relaxing, just playing hard, playing as a team, it's been better. When you play as a team and you have fun, the numbers will be there.
"What I took back from it is you're going to fail," he continued. "I went 1-for-8. You have to keep your head on straight the whole time. It's a lot easier when you strike out and then hustle out to the field. Failing there made me realize I'm going to go 0-for-3, but going after it the next game and keeping your head on straight is important."
That mentality clearly came in handy as Bishop Gorman returned to Nevada. They had to deal with adversity again, losing a game in the playoffs after a long win streak. Gallo put up some gaudy numbers, albeit not against the same kind of competition he faced in North Carolina. Then again, Gallo said, the way he was swinging at the tournament, someone could have pitched underhand to him and he would have had the same results.
"The competition we faced in North Carolina was top notch," Gallo said. "But one of the games, the pitching, the first guy we faced, he was really good. And the next game, the guy was throwing 80 mph. I was trying to do too much. I would've swung at a pitch over my head.
"We came home, played three teams in the top 25 and beat all of them. We still had things to prove."
Has Gallo proved to teams that he can make enough contact to tap into his tremendous raw power? That remains to be seen when the Draft occurs on June 4-6. It starts with the first round and Comp Round A on Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. ET. The first night of the event will be broadcast live on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com. Rounds 2-40 will also be streamed live on MLB.com on June 5-6.
MLB.com's coverage, sponsored by CenturyLink, will include Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Gallo will undoubtedly hear his name called in the early stages of the three-day event, though it's unclear whether it will be early enough to sway him from being a two-way player at LSU next year. Gallo prefers third base to first, a position he played and enjoyed for the first time with Team USA last summer, because he gets to show off his plus arm.
That plus arm has more than one team intrigued about his upside on the mound. Gallo has largely served as a reliever of late and that's what he would do for LSU. A plus fastball, combined with some concern about his ability to hit at the next level, has some wanting to potentially draft him as a pitcher. He touched triple digits while closing recently, and Gallo spoke excitedly about the adrenaline of rearing back and blowing hitters away.
But while Gallo won't completely shut the door on pitching, it's clear he prefers life as a position player. He is smart enough to know, though, that his right arm could serve as good fallback plan if needed.
"Most of the teams we've talked to, they want me to hit first," Gallo said. "Then, if it doesn't work out, I can pitch.
"I'd rather hit. I'd rather hit a game-winning home run than get a game-winning strikeout."