Gallo puts on show during Futures batting practice
Rangers prospect wins unofficial homer derby crown with impressive display
MINNEAPOLIS -- Unlike with the All-Star Game, there is no Home Run Derby tied into the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. If there had been, Rangers third-base prospect Joey Gallo would have run away with the title.
During batting practice, Gallo led all players with 15 home runs, many of the tape-measure variety. He reached the third deck in right-center at Target Field with his first swing and hit five more balls there, including one with his final swing. Gallo also hit three blasts to right field that carried all the way out of the park, including one that smashed the windshield of a vehicle outside.
"My first swing, I was up there just swinging and I hit a home run and heard people go kind of like, 'Ohhhhhh," Gallo said. "I said, 'I might as well put on a show. People are paying good money to be here, so I'll give them what they want.' I heard I broke a windshield, and I do feel bad about that."
Gallo's power is no surprise, because it earned him a $2.25 million bonus as a supplemental first-round pick in 2012. He set a rookie-level Arizona League record with 18 homers in his pro debut, led the Minor Leagues with 40 homers last year in his first full pro season and is tied for the Minor League lead with 31 homers this year.
Still, to actually see Gallo's power in person was impressive. It left onlookers around the batting cage gasping and giggling. One scout who has seen Gallo take batting practice multiple times was awed by what he saw in a Major League park.
"Gallo was the winner, absolutely," the scout said. "You come to the Futures Game and these type of events, and to see the way his power plays, and the way his balls carry and [what they] look like here in a big league setting. … You watch the balls carry the way they do, into the upper deck with the overhang and out of the stadium. Wow."
Gallo is a native of Las Vegas, as is Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who shares the Minor League home run lead with him. Asked the day before who would win in a homer contest between him and Gallo, Bryant said, "My money would have to be on Joey."
Bryant put on a nice show with five long balls, including two bombs to dead center (one off the batting eye) and an opposite-field shot into the second deck in right field, but his prediction proved correct.
Gallo said he has known Bryant his entire life, as Bryant grew up playing with Gallo's older brother. They're helping establish Las Vegas as the power-hitting capital of baseball, with Bryce Harper leading those efforts.
"You could say it might be something in the water, but that's not right," Gallo said. "We've just had good talent. I think maybe we're underrated out there. Vegas has pretty good players and coaches."
For the United States team, Yankees catcher/first baseman Peter O'Brien also had a nice batting practice. O'Brien, who ranked third in the Minors with 29 homers, hit nine balls out, including one off the batting eye. Reds outfielder Jesse Winker reached the third deck in right field, while Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe put two balls into the second deck in left field.
Cubs third baseman Javier Baez, who topped the Minors with 75 extra-base hits a year ago, was the unofficial World batting practice leader with seven homers, one more than Rangers catcher Jorge Alfaro. Baez crushed his shots to left field, including one into the third deck with his final swing. Alfaro was the only player to reach the second deck in center.
Twins first baseman Kennys Vargas reached the seats from both sides of the plate. He hit a ball off the façade of the second deck in left-center batting right-handed, and a ball off the façade in right field while batting lefty. Vargas also hit another homer batting lefty, as he enjoyed getting acclimated to the park he may call home in the near future.
"It felt pretty good," Vargas said. "The ball flies here. I don't think about trying to hit the ball out of the park. I just try to hit the ball hard and they flew out. I know I can hit the ball out of any park."