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Pelicans' patient Gallo hits three homers
No. 5 Rangers prospect thriving after offseason working with Giambi
04/24/2014 12:55 AM ET
Joey Gallo has 71 homers in 189 Minor League games since being drafted. (Robert Gurganus/Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

The next time Jason Giambi interviews for a managerial position, he may have a new bullet on his resume -- his work this offseason with Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo.

The Myrtle Beach infielder continued his torrid Carolina League start Wednesday, belting three homers and drawing three walks in a 21-6 throttling of Frederick.

Texas' No. 5 prospect finished 3-for-4 with six RBIs and four runs as he continued to dominate Class A Advanced opponents. His nine long balls are second in the Minors behind recently promoted Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez. The three-homer game was the third of his career -- he did it twice with Class A Hickory in 2013.

All three of Gallo's homers came on offspeed pitches, and the third cleared the third tier of billboards over the center-field fence at Frederick's Harry Grove Stadium.

"I've worked on that a lot," said the 2012 39th overall pick. "I've been working with my approach at the plate. I think it's been beneficial and is paying off pretty well right now. I'm relaxed up there."

A year ago, Gallo became the first teenager to hit 40 home runs in the Minors in over 50 years. His raw power -- touted highly before he arrived in Class A Hickory -- was on full display throughout the summer, but his plate approach was also often questioned. Gallo struck out in 37 percent of his plate appearances and batted just .245.

He's hitting .359 right now in large part because he's drastically cut down on the strikeouts. His strikeout rate is 25.3 percent and his walk rate is up to 18.1 percent

"I'm laying off pitches and deciding which pitch to hit and which not to hit," he said. "That's helped a lot so far. I'm laying off pitches in the dirt, laying off high pitches. Going up there with a plan of what they're going to do to you."

Gallo credits his improved pitch anticipation and recognition to a winter spent with the Indians' Giambi and Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at the Philippi Sports Institute in Las Vegas, his hometown. Gallo grew especially close to Giambi, who shared numerous tips on his mental approach at the plate. The 20-year Major Leaguer has expressed interest in coaching after he retires, even interviewing for the Rockies managerial job after the 2012 season.

"He kind of was just talking about different pitchers and what to look for in different counts," Gallo said. "Obviously, he was a pretty disciplined hitter. He helped me out a lot with that."

Gallo paired Giambi's wise words with his experience last season and came into 2014 with a more focused plan at the plate.

"The experience, that's really helping," he said. "The improvements I've made from last year, I've made some adjustments."

Every hitter in the Pelicans' lineup hit safely, and seven of them collected three hits. Texas' No. 6 prospect Nick Williams also homered, plated two RBIs and scored twice. The Rangers' top prospect, catcher Jorge Alfaro, was 3-for-7 with a double and two runs, and sports an average of .278.

Myrtle Beach's No. 9 hitter Zach Cone was 3-for-5 with six RBIs and a walk.

Texas' 2013 sixth-rounder Sam Wolff picked up the win, after giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven over five innings. He was tagged for two homers -- his first two this season -- and the outing lifted his ERA to 2.70 with 19 strikeouts and eight walks in 23 1/3 frames.

The hurler can pitch into the mid-90-mph range and Gallo said his offspeed stuff has kept hitters off balanced so far this season.

"The first time I saw him pitch, I couldn't believe … he was a sixth-rounder," Gallo said. "He has great stuff, composure, everything."

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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