Joey Gallo To Transition To Pitcher
Late last night, the Rangers announced that they were transitioning one of baseball’s top hitting prospects into perhaps one of the games hardest throwing pitchers.
It’s not uncommon to see teams trying to convert their struggling position-playing prospects to pitchers. Trevor Hoffman, one of the all-time greatest Closers and the first man to surpass the 600 saves plateau, was a light-hitting shortstop before moving to the mound and learning a majestic change up. Troy Percival, another great closer and the owner of 358 saves, started his professional career at behind the plate. The Rangers themselves have former No.1 overall pick shortstop-turned-pitcher in Matt Bush this spring.
But all of these players, bar none, were nothing but atrocious before the teams gave up on their bats. They somehow managed to be more miserable at the plate than Ross Geller in the tanning room.
Obviously, Joey Gallo doesn’t fall into that realm. He’s the owner of the most prodigious raw power in the game, maybe ever. The way he destroys baseballs is borderline pornographic. He has the potential to be the most feared slugger of our generation.
However, the Rangers feel like they don’t have time to wait for his hit tool to develop. Yes, it confuses and flummoxes me to no end. In the history of the sport, never has anyone given up on a hitting prospect with Gallo’s pedigree this early in his career.
Sure, he showed very poor contact skills in his first big league stint in 2015. Here are the five worst career contact rates in the Pitch f/x era (starting in 2007) , among players who’ve surpassed 120 plate appearances in that time frame:
Joey Gallo 52.9%
Matt Garza 53.3%
Ross Ohlendorf 56.3%
Joel Pineiro 57.8%
Jake Arrieta 58.2%
No one in recent memory, even bad hitting pitchers, has whiffed at a higher rate than Gallo. And he struck out at a near 40% clip in his time in AAA. His inability to make contact can kill his power potential.
Additionally, it’s no secret that Gallo’s got a cannon for an arm. He touched 98 in high school, where he pitched regularly for the Bishop Gorman squad. So he already has a little pitching experience. With the blazing fastball in his weapon rack, all he needs to do is to learn an average secondary pitch or two and how to locate them.
The least I can tell is that the Rangers front office are a bunch of people who are smarter than us. They clearly see something we don’t. Maybe it’s the recent trend of teams collecting elite relievers.
It takes time to understand the reality and get used to it. But all we can do is hope for the best, both for the now-former slugging prospects’ sake and the franchise’s. Fare thee well, Joey Gallo the phenomenal power hitting juggernaut. Welcome to our world, Joey Gallo the flame-throwing pitcher.
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