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Gallo makes history with 40th homer
Rangers prospect is first teen to reach milestone in 51 years
08/31/2013 11:44 PM ET
Joey Gallo has 62 homers in 169 games in the Minors.
Joey Gallo has 62 homers in 169 games in the Minors. (Tracy Proffitt/Hickory Crawdads)

Ever since Joey Gallo set the all-time Nevada home run record, it's been clear his power was something unique. On Saturday night, he managed to find more rarefied air on the baseball landscape.

The Rangers' No. 5 prospect belted two more homers in Class A Hickory's 8-2 victory over Delmarva, becoming the first teenager to reach that milestone in 51 years.

The last to reach the mark in the Minor Leagues was Dick Simpson, who hit 42 homers as an 18-year-old with the Class C San Jose Bees of the California League in 1962, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

"To be the first teenager in 50 years, that's pretty crazy," Gallo said. "It's pretty cool to put my name in that category now. It'll be cool to be able to look back on this year and have something special like that, to say I did that."

Simpson had his historic season over 135 games, driving in 113 runs while striking out 133 times in 577 at-bats. He earned a brief Major League callup with the Los Angeles Angels and went 2-for-8 without a home run in six games.

Gallo, meanwhile, mashed his 39th and 40th homers in his 110th game after missing nearly a month with a groin injury in July. The two blasts gave Gallo six in his last three games, including his second three-homer barrage of the season on Friday.

"It's pretty remarkable to me," Gallo said. "Obviously, missing the month being injured, I didn't even think about coming close to 40 home runs. It's been a crazy ride so far. It's unbelievable."

Two of his homers came while he was rehabbing in the Rookie-level Arizona League. The 38 South Atlantic League long balls are two shy of the record Russell Branyan established as a 20-year-old with Columbus in 1996. Hickory has two games left in the regular season.

Gallo, who belted 65 homers at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, already has one league record to his name, having set the Arizona League mark with 18 blasts a year ago.

"If things work in my favor, it would be awesome," he said. "If it happened, that would be amazing. After breaking the AZL record last year, moving up to another league and potentially breaking that record, too, would be a pretty cool honor."

The 19-year-old also is the first Minor Leaguer to hit at least 40 homers since Dallas McPherson slugged 42 in 2008 for Triple-A Albuquerque. Gallo has seven multi-homer efforts this year.

His first homer on Saturday was a leadoff blast in the bottom of the fourth inning that stretched the Crawdads' lead to 3-1. Delmarva got within 3-2 in the seventh, but Hickory answered with five runs in the eighth.

The third baseman's second homer started the eighth-inning outburst as he drove a ball out do dead center field at L.P. Frans Stadium.

"I kind of still had that same rhythm from last night," he said. "I was confident that if I hit the ball, I had a good chance to hit it out. I kind of went up there and tried to stick with what the plan was yesterday -- be easy, throw the barrel to the ball.

"I ended up hitting two more pretty good home runs. I used that mojo a little bit to carry that into today."

Gallo also struck out once, giving him 30 punchouts in 90 plate appearances this month. That 33 percent strikeout rate is an improvement for Gallo, who fanned in 38 percent of his at-bats before August.

David Lyon added a grand slam, his eighth homer of the season, in the eighth for Hickory. Alejandro Selen was 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while John Niggli (1-1) allowed two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 inning for his first SAL win.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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