After just 34 games and 146 plate appearances in Double-A this season, the Joey Gallo era in Texas is set to begin, thanks to Adrian Beltre's thumb injury.
Gallo, the Rangers' top prospect, got a late start to his 2015 campaign because of minor ankle surgery, making his debut with Frisco in the Texas League on April 25. It hasn't taken him long to get his power stroke going, with nine homers in just 34 games.
Despite his late start, the No. 9 prospect in baseball was third in home runs and fourth in RBIs in the Texas League. He's second in slugging percentage (.636) and OPS (1.061), behind only the since-promoted Carlos Correa. While there's plenty of swing and miss to his game (49 K's), his 24 walks has led to a .425 OBP and helped him work counts on his way to a .314 batting average.
Those numbers are all well and good in the Texas League. But what's fair to expect from the 21-year-old after a double-jump to the big leagues? It all depends on how he's pitched to and how he handles what he's given.
Don't expect Gallo to see a lot of good pitches in the early going, starting with his debut on Tuesday against the White Sox. With the swing and miss to his game, expect opposing pitchers to live on the edges and see how often the left-handed hitter is willing to chase. If he starts chasing a lot, he could be in trouble.
That said, Gallo has shown an ability to make adjustments better than anyone expected since he's come out of high school. If he can get past the stage of teams trying to get him to wave at pitches out of the zone and get to some hitter's counts, he can do some damage. His job will be to try and not do too much, use the whole field and go the other way as much as possible. If he can get to deep counts more consistently, then he'll have the chance to show off the power that has allowed him to hit 40 or more homers in each of the past two seasons.
The Rangers, for their part, should try to protect him in the lineup if they can, putting a solid run producer behind him if possible. Even though he's just arriving, letting him sit on Wednesday, rather than trying to hit off nasty lefty Chris Sale, might not be a bad idea.
Defensively, Gallo's best tool at third is his arm strength. With the game speeding up some, his lack of range and occasional accuracy issues should be expected. If he can make the routine plays at the hot corner, Rangers fans should be thrilled, and he's capable of doing that.
It's really all about the bat with Gallo. Expect the strikeout totals to be high and he's unlikely to hit close to the .314 he was hitting this year, but if he can work the count, he' s going to punish some mistakes and hit the ball a long way.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.