Minor League Prospect Notes: Joey Gallo (3B) and Lewis Brinson (OF), Texas Rangers
Strikeouts? Who cares about strikeouts? Concerns about contact against good pitching dropped Nevada prep slugger Joey Gallo out of the first round in the June draft, down to the supplemental first round and 39th overall, where he was selected by the Texas Rangers. Slot for that pick was $1,324,800, but the Rangers had to give him $2,250,000 to keep him away from college at LSU. If the early returns are any indication, this was money well spent.
Gallo is murdering pitching in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .316/.461/.816 with 13 homers in 29 games. He does strike out a lot: 32 whiffs in 98 at-bats, but he draws walks too (26, none intentional) and is drawing raves for his bat speed and ability to use his raw power in games. Also note an unusual reverse platoon split: he's hitting .280/.434/.747 against right-handers, but a stunning .435/.552/1.043 against lefties.
Gallo is rough defensively, with 10 errors in 28 games and a below-average range factor at third base. But that was expected. It would be something of a waste to limit his arm to first base (he throws in the mid-to-upper-90s) but moving across the diamond is always an option if he can't improve his reliability. Time will tell if Gallo turns into Ryan Howard, Chris Davis, or something in between, but right now he looks like a good investment.
Tool-laden teammate Lewis Brinson, meanwhile, was considerably less expensive, going for $1,625,000 with the 29th pick in the draft. He is also playing well in Arizona, hitting .318/.371/.553 with 11 walks and 39 strikeouts in 132 at-bats, going 8-for-9 in steals. His overall athleticism is better than Gallo's and he is a strong defensive outfielder with speed to spare, but his bat is less refined and his power potential not as loud as Gallo's. Concerns about his hitting mechanics hurt his stock a little pre-draft, although not enough to keep him out of the first round (once his reasonable bonus demands became known). His biggest problem right now looks like strike zone judgment. Possible comp: Adam Jones, if the 6-3, 170 pound Brinson can add some strength.