FORT MYERS, Fla. – Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School prospect Joey Gallo arrived at the 2011 Perfect Game National Showcase Friday afternoon and immediately went to work.
He took batting practice at City of Palms Park with his teammates on PG National Red, and a PG blogger was quick to note Gallo “has light-tower power. Ball flies off his bat. Very impressive.”
He then participated in the infield throw workout session, and delivered a throw across the infield that was gunned at 93 mph. Only Tampa’s Lance McCullers threw harder – a 98 mph bullet that set a PG National event record.
Later in the evening, the 6-5, 205-pound third baseman and right-handed pitcher was somewhat unremarkable, going hitless in two at-bats.
Gallo, who Perfect Game has pegged as the No. 12 top national prospect in the class of 2012, is taking seriously the three days he will spend at the PG National Showcase, which is scheduled to run into Sunday evening.
“This is a very important event for me,” Gallo said Saturday morning before taking his cuts in the early team round of the Rawlings Home Run Challenge. “I feel like this is an event where I can show what I have compared to all the best players in the nation, so I look forward to being out here and competing with everybody else.”
Gallo came here with no expectations if only because he’s fully aware expectations can lead to disappointment.
“I kind of just go with the flow because everybody here is a great player,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to find or who’s going to show up, so it’s hard to come in here with high expectations because it’s hard to exceed those sometimes.”
He is usually slotted as a “two-way” guy, meaning he has value as both a pitcher and a position player. His bat and his slick play around the corner infield positions seem to do most of the talking these days, but he won’t eliminate pitching from his options.
“I like doing both because I feel like I do both pretty well,” Gallo said. “If it comes down to the point where I need to do one or the other, I’d rather hit, but whatever makes money, that’s what I’m going to do.” He finished that statement with a laugh and a smile.
Gallo, who lives in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, will be a senior at Bishop Gorman in the fall. With its big left-handed hitter leading the way, Bishop Gorman capped a 35-5 season with its sixth straight Class 4A state championship, and ranked fifth in Perfect Game’s final national high school rankings.
In 39 games, Gallo hit .471 (57-for-121) with 25 home runs, 76 RBIs and 64 runs scored. From the mound, he went 3-2 with a 1.12 ERA, and struck out 29 in 18 2/3 innings. It was a remarkable junior campaign.
“I was using a metal bat and the pitching wasn’t like you’ll see here, but I was starting to find my groove a little bit,” he said, almost apologetically, about the 25 home runs. “When you start finding your groove you can start launching a little bit.
“At the beginning of the season I was struggling a little bit, but then you start to find your place and you start to relax at the plate,” he said. “That’s when I really starting hitting them out.”
Gallo was coming off a sophomore year in which he hit .474 with 15 home runs, 62 RBIs and 41 runs scored. During the summer of 2010, he attended the PG California Underclass Showcase; the PG Junior National Showcase; and the PG WWBA World Championship as a member of the Ohio Warhawks.
He did a lot of growing-up between his sophomore and junior years in high school.
“I definitely matured as a player in many ways,” he said. “I feel like I’ve become faster (with) more power, and I’m definitely better in the mental part of the game that I have now. I can relax a little bit in pressure situations with a lot of people watching.”
Gallo has made a verbal commitment to LSU, which he thinks is perceived by some back home as an odd choice.
“Being from Vegas it seemed pretty weird that I was going to LSU, but it’s a big program with a lot of tradition,” Gallo said. “I went down there on a visit and I just loved it because of all the tradition down there. Everybody is so into the games – there were like 10,000 people at the games – so it was definitely a team I want to play for.
“I figured I’d switch it up and do a little different thing and go where I want to go. Try something new.”
Gallo will be in Cary, N.C., for the Tournament of Stars next week – an event at which USA Baseball selects its national teams – and will participate in the annual Area Code Games later in the summer. He will also play with his local American Legion team.
And he remains grateful for the opportunities that have been made available to him.
“Without these (Perfect Game events) I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know if I’d even be on the board,” he said. “The first one I ever did (the 2009 National Underclass Showcase – Session 1) I hit a home run, and right there I was on the board. I don’t know where I’d be without it, honestly.”