Following Kyle’s 2012 MLB Draft preview yesterday, high school slugger Joey Gallo officially kicks off our pre-2012 draft coverage of 12 Blue Jays draft targets in 12 days, leading up to the main event on Monday, June 4.
Like we did last year, we’ll be hosting a live chat throughout the entire first round again starting at 7 p.m. ET, so make sure to pop by.
The players on our list are not who are considered to be the “best” players in the draft, but rather who could realistically be around when the Jays take the podium and who we would like to see the Blue Jays go after, with an emphasis on the latter.
Other articles in the series:
No. 1 – Lucas Giolito
No. 2 – Max Fried
No. 3 – Lance McCullers
No. 4 – Zach Eflin
No. 5 – Corey Seager
No. 6 – Courtney Hawkins
No. 7 – Chris Stratton
No. 8 – Richie Shaffer
No. 9 – Nick Travieso
No. 10 – Lucas Sims
No. 11 – Andrew Heaney
No. 12: Joey Gallo
3B/RHP | 18 years old / 6′5″ 215 lbs
Born: November 19, 1993 in Henderson, Nevada
High School: Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)
College commitment: LSU
Baseball America Rank: 33 (17th among position players)
ESPN/Keith Law Rank: 23 (13th among position players)
- Draws comparisons to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in terms of upside potential
- Considers himself “a hard-working kid who loves to win”
- Reebok’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2011 as a junior after hitting .471 with 25 home runs and 76 RBI in 39 games
- 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic MVP
Stats (via MaxPreps):
From a Perfect Game All-American home run derby in 2011:
The first word that comes to mind with 6-foot-5 Bishop Gorman slugger Joey Gallo is power. He ripped 25 home runs in just 39 games as a junior in 2011, while managing to belt the 10th-longest home run in Petco Park history (442 feet) with a wooden bat that summer during the Perfect Game All-America Game. He followed that up with another 21 home runs in 40 games as a senior, including 19 over a 24-game stretch and a 5-for-5, four-homer game against Clark on April 18. With 63 home runs in total over four high school seasons, Gallo set a new Nevada state record, eclipsing the previous mark of 60.
Gallo, described by an opposing pitcher as looking more like 6’7″ than 6’5″, is already an imposing figure in the batter’s box with above-average present game power, but he has the potential to fill out his 215-pound frame to be even larger. He has the potential to hit 35-40 home runs in the majors, and his power grade of 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale is easily tops in this year’s draft class. He uses his incredible raw strength to effortlessly drive the ball out of any park, standing tall in his swing and displaying tremendous bat speed. He has a smooth swing with a tendency to demolish pitches to his pull side, though he’s capable of driving the ball to all fields. He’s been described as an absolute treat to watch in batting practice and in a home run derby because he hits, according to Scout.com’s Frankie Piliere, “downright majestic blasts”.
However, batting practice is much different from professional game situations, and that’s where the biggest knock against Gallo comes from. With Gallo’s power comes considerable swing-and-miss, which has scouts wondering whether or not he’ll be able to put up even a respectable batting average as a pro. His height helps him create leverage and loft, but he’ll need to shorten his swing to improve his contact rates, as it’s a bit long right now. He has sometimes looked overmatched against below-average stuff as well, according to Baseball America.
While his primary position in high school was third base, Gallo is actually a two-way star, with a power arm on the mound that plays in the field as well, either at third base or in right. He’s considered to have one of the best arms for a position player in this year’s draft, and he’s touched 98 mph with his plus fastball. He routinely sits in the 93-95 mph range with his heater and flashes an intriguing slider. Most teams are looking to draft him as a position player, but his projection as a late-inning reliever or better on the mound represents a good fallback option for him in case things don’t go as planned offensively. It’s been said that his arm is so powerful that he could be selected in the first round as a pitcher, albeit a very raw one.
Why the Blue Jays could be interested: Lacking both a definitive power hitter and a young first base prospect in their minor league system, Gallo would be a welcome addition to the Blue Jays’ system, especially considering those criteria. He could, however, possibly stick at third base or have his arm tested in right field, so it really would be interesting to see what position he’d begin playing his pro career at. Even with a fallback option on the mound, Gallo represents the high-risk, high-reward kind of player that Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos loves to go after. Keith Law described Gallo’s raw power as “obscene”, and that it’s “not far behind” Bryce Harper for the best that he’s ever seen in a high school player. If Gallo had any kind of intriguing hit tool, he would easily be a top 5-10 favorite in this draft.
The Blue Jays pick 17th and 22nd in the first round, though, which would be a much higher and unlikely spot for Gallo to land given the late first round/early supplemental round predictions that are out there for him. Gallo is quite a wild card in terms of where he’ll end up, but if he managed to stick around until the later stages of the supplemental round, Anthopoulos and his staff would surely contemplate selecting him with the 50th pick.
Anthopoulos seems destined to continue selecting who the organization feels is the best player available, regardless of how the minor league system is made up right now. So the question is, will Gallo be that player when the Jays take the podium on June 4?