Rangers slugger Joey Gallo has been in a mini-slump before. Apparently all it takes to steady the ship is a multi-homer performance.
The first-rounder went yard twice and tied a career high with seven RBIs in the Class A Hickory Crawdads' 9-2 win over the host Savannah Sand Gnats on Tuesday.
It was his fourth multi-homer game of the season and it marked the fourth time he plated four or more runs in the same game. His second long ball of the night gave him 25 on the season, overtaking teammate Ryan Rua for the most in the Minors.
"I remember playing my first home game last year in short-season Spokane and I had two homers and seven RBIs in that game. Tonight actually took me back a little bit," said Gallo, selected by the Rangers 39th overall in the 2012 Draft.
"I was going through a slump back then too when I broke out. I was in the same boat as I am now. It was very similar."
Entering Tuesday in an 0-for-23 slump, Texas' No. 8 prospect began his night by flying out, grounding out and striking out in his first three trips to the plate against Gabriel Ynoa. Then his bat came alive.
Gallo hit a grand slam to right field off Julian Hilario with two outs in the seventh inning and he added a three-run shot to right field off Wanel Mesa with nobody out in the ninth.
"[Hilario] walked the first guy and he got ahead of me 0-2 with two outs. He threw a change-up that I swung at and I figured he would go back to it. I got a good piece of it and hit it over the right-field wall," Gallo said of his grand slam.
"[The second homer] I was down 0-2 and I took two fastballs for balls, then [Mesa] threw me a hanging curveball. I figured he would throw it after throwing two straight fastballs. I was happy that I broke out of the slump I was having."
Part of the reason for his success in those final two at-bats was that he began thinking like a pitcher.
"I wouldn't say it's guessing, it's more about predicting what they will throw you. I was a pitcher back in high school and I could see if a guy took a bad swing at a curveball. I wouldn't throw him a fastball, I'd throw another curveball to see if he threw at that again. It's easier to sit on a curveball when you're 99 percent sure it's going to come."
Gallo pitched and played third base between the ages of 8 and 18. In fact, he was so good on the mound -- hitting 100 mph on the radar gun as a high school senior -- that he attracted interest from several teams who wanted to see him go pro as a pitcher.
"It was really up to me, but some teams wanted me as a pitcher and others wanted to see me as a hitter," said Gallo, who was selected to represent Team USA at the Futures Game later this month. "I've always loved hitting, that's my passion. I didn't have a passion for pitching, I was just good at it.
"I almost didn't want to tell scouts that I could pitch because I didn't want them to even consider that. I wanted them to see me hit."
Gallo is now seven homers short of tying the Hickory franchise record set by Jon Benick with 32 in 2004. The streaky hitter hopes Tuesday's big performance turns around his second half.
On June 5, Gallo was batting .211. Then he hit safely in 10 of the final 12 games before the All-Star break, raising his average to .252. Since then, he's batting just .105.
"I just wasn't putting together good at-bats. I was hitting a lot of balls at people and not having good luck go my way. That had something to do with it, but I knew I would break out of it sooner or later."