News Column

Team USA wins Futures game 3-2 behind minor-league slugger Joey Gallo

July 14, 2014

By Phil Miller, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)



July 14--Joey Gallo has an idea for a new competition during the Futures Game. "You break it," he suggested, "you win it."

The contest looks rigged, when you've got his power. The Rangers' future slugger, tied for the minor league league with 31 homers this year, smashed the window of a Chevy truck on the right-field plaza with a batting-practice home run -- but no, he didn't get to drive away with it -- then hit one even farther during the game. Gallo, a third baseman at Class AA Frisco, bashed a sixth-inning fastball from Astros prospect Michael Feliz more than 420 feet Sunday, a two-run shot that delivered Team USA's fifth consecutive victory in the Futures Game, 3-2 over the World team.

"This is definitely the most memorable [home run] I've ever hit," said Gallo, who has collected 93 of them in the minors already, before he's turned 21. "To hit a homer in front of 37,000 people? That's crazy."

Almost as crazy as the talent on display at Target Field two days before the major league All-Stars take over.

There was power, supplied by Gallo and Cubs Class AAA shortstop Javier Baez, who hit a two-run homer to right that gave the World team a brief 2-1 lead. There was speed, showed off by Toronto AA outfielder Dalton Pompey, who had two hits, and Phillies Class A shortstop, who stole second base easily. And there was pitching galore, a collection of 20 hard-throwing arms that racked up 18 strikeouts between them.

None of them were recorded by Alex Meyer, though. The Twins' top pitching prospect was almost perfectly efficient, needing more pitches to warm up than retire the World team. Meyer threw only four pitches, all strikes registering 97 or 98 mph, to record three outs in the fifth inning.

"I was fooling with the lineup card, getting all the changes [written] in," U.S. manager Tom Kelly said. "I turned around, and he was coming off" the field.

"I threw four four-seam fastballs. It was over before I blinked," said Meyer, whose day amounted to a first-pitch fly ball, an 0-and-1 single, and a first-pitch double-play grounder by Texas catching prospect Jorge Alfaro. "I wanted to show something [more]. I wanted to throw a changeup or a curveball. I wanted to strike some guys out; everybody wants to. But in a game like this, when you can escape with a zero against these guys, you'll take it every time."

Jose Berrios, the Twins' 20-year-old righthander, wasn't in quite as big a hurry, but he was equally effective. Berrios, who posted a 1.96 ERA in Fort Myers this year before being promoted to Class AA New Britain, started for the World team and made quick work of the three hitters he faced, striking out one. He threw 12 pitches, nine of them strikes, and said he was awed by his surroundings.

"I felt excited to be on that mound. My fastball was hitting its spots," Berrios said. Does he like pitching in Target Field? "Oh yes," he said. "Hopefully soon."

Kennys Vargas learned something about his future ballpark, too. The New Britain first baseman, batting cleanup for the World team, clubbed a pitch to deep right field in the fourth inning, but instead of carrying over the wall, it landed on the warning track. Vargas hustled for a double, his only hit in a 1-for-4 day.

Vargas, Gallo and Cubs AAA third baseman Kris Bryant put on a Mark McGwire-esque show during batting practice, but only Gallo connected during the game.

"We have a friendly competition, nothing hostile. But it's a good thing that one didn't count today," said Bryant, who is tied with Gallo with 31 minor league homers this year. "You don't expect anything else from him. He puts the barrel on the ball, and it sure is a joy to watch."

Well, unless you own that truck, a Chevy promotion on the plaza.

"After I got through hitting, I looked up at the [scoreboard], and they were showing the shattered window. I was like, 'Oh, cool,'?" Gallo said. "My mom just texted me a picture of her with the car and the smashed window."

___

(c)2014 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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Source: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)


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