After matching a career high with a nine-game homerless drought, Joey Gallo came back in a big way on Friday night.
The Rangers No. 4 prospect belted two long balls and tied a career high with seven RBIs, powering Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach to a 12-6 thumping of visiting Carolina.
"I wasn't getting the ball to drive," Gallo said. "I get a couple pitches a game and that's about it, so if I miss them, then that's it. "I was in a little bit of a slump and I just kept going with my same routine."
Leading the Minor Leagues with 20 homers and a .750 slugging percentage, Gallo doesn't see as many strikes as he used to. But that has only made him smarter at the plate. Two months into the season, he's drawn 45, tied for tops in the Minors and only six shy of his total for all of last season.
"It's pretty obvious now that when a base is open, they try to pitch around me and make me fish, but I'm trying to take my walks and I've gotten a lot better than last year," the 20-year-old third baseman said. "You start to swing at pitches out of the zone and bad things happen."
After striking out his first at-bat Friday night, he walked in the fourth inning and came up in the fifth, representing the tying run. With a base open and two outs, Gallo thought he was going to get pitched around again, but after the pleasant surprise of a strike came his way, he crushed an offering from Mudcats starter D.J. Brown over the right-field wall.
With the game tied in the seventh, 6-6, Gallo came up in another big spot. Reliever Clayton Cook (0-1) couldn't pitch around MLB.com's No. 79 overall prospect, so when Gallo saw a changeup, he smashed his fourth career grand slam.
"That was awesome," he said. "Obviously, the bases were loaded, so the pitcher had to come at me, and he made a mistake and I drove it over the right field wall. It was a great game. We came back and never died, just always kept battling."
Aside from the lack of pitches over the plate, Gallo said another reason for his drought was that his timing was off after a "typical off day" on May 22 -- his first time sitting out this season.
"It's nice to sit and not worry about playing the game, but it's tough because you start to fall in your timing, and that's what happened," he said.
It was the 14th career multi-homer game and fifth this season for the 39th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. With seven RBIs, Gallo tied the club mark shared by Tyler Flowers and Zach Zaneski. Flowers set the record on June 20, 2008 and Zaneski tied it on May 3, 2011.
Rangers No. 5 prospect Nick Williams went 3-for-5, fell a triple shy of the cycle, scored twice and extended his hitting streak to 14 games for the Pelicans.
Reliever Cody Ege (3-0) got the win, despite allowing two runs on four hits over three innings.