MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Joey Gallo let loose his powerful left-handed swing on a too-good-to-pass-up pitch over the plate, producing a soaring two-run homer to give his team the lead for good.
The real damage was done during batting practice, though, before the All-Star Futures game. One of Gallo’s head-turning drives in warmups whacked the top of the windshield of a promotional pickup truck parked on the concourse beyond right field.
The glass was shattered.
Soon, if Gallo continues his trajectory toward the Texas Rangers, the 20-year-old third baseman will be able to make his mark on the majors.
Gallo was picked as the MVP of the annual showcase for baseball’s best minor leaguers, for his long ball in the sixth inning that sent the U.S. team to a 3-2 victory over the World squad on Sunday afternoon.
“This one’s definitely the most memorable,” said Gallo, the assumed successor for four-time All-Star Adrian Beltre with the Rangers.
Gallo, currently with Double-A Frisco, has 31 homers and 73 RBIs this season in 85 games. This one-out drive on a 2-0 pitch from Houston Astros right-hander Michael Feliz was estimated at 419 feet.
“Good pitch for him. This guy has really good power,” Feliz said.
That was evident before the game. Gallo, who grew up in Las Vegas, had his parents here to watch. His mother even sent him a picture, with her posing next to the damaged vehicle. He got an even better message after hitting the real home run, from offseason workout partner Troy Tulowitzki, the captain of the National League team in the home run derby Monday night.
“He was telling me I should hit for him,” Gallo said. “I was like, `Aw, I wish I could, man. That’d be a lot of fun.’ Obviously I can’t do that.”
Gallo followed a two-run homer in the top of the sixth by Javier Baez against Washington Nationals right-hander Lucas Giolito.
With so many bad teams in recent seasons, the Chicago Cubs have been collecting a tantalizing bunch of potential stars, with Baez and Kris Bryant at the top of the list. Baez, the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, and Bryant, the second selection in 2013, comprise the left side of the infield for Triple-A affiliate Iowa.
So when Baez rounded the bases, he jogged past his buddy Bryant.
“I just said, `You’ve got to save those for the season,’” Bryant said.
Baez pointed at his family members, seated near third base, as he headed for home.
“I feel good that I showed what I can do,” he said.
Bryant went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts while playing third base for the U.S team, which has won five straight Futures games and raised its record to 10-6 since the exhibition began in 1999.
Until the Baez-Gallo home run derby that broke out in the sixth, this was much more of a showcase of pitching prospects, mirroring the major league trend toward more dominance on the mound and shrinking slugging percentages.
The first five U.S. pitchers tossed scoreless innings, starting with Henry Owens, the Double-A lefty for the Boston Red Sox.
Minnesota Twins right-hander Alex Meyer, who could soon be pitching on the same mound for the big league team, needed only four pitches for the fourth. His fastball reached 97 mph.
Meyer, acquired from the Nationals in a trade for center fielder Denard Span, has 103 strikeouts in 89-plus innings for Triple-A Rochester.
World team starter Jose Berrios, another Twins prospect, taken with the 32nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, struck out center fielder Michael Taylor of the Nationals to start the game and pitched a 1-2-3 inning.
Julio Urias, a native of Sinaloa, Mexico, currently at Class A Rancho Cucamonga for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was the youngest player on display at age 17. He struck out Taylor with a 94 mph fastball in a perfect fifth inning.
New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who started the game last year at his future home, Citi Field, got the save.
Twins fans in attendance also had World team first baseman Kennys Vargas to cheer, the David Ortiz clone who hit a double in four at-bats in the cleanup spot.
The U.S. team was supervised by former Twins manager Tom Kelly, currently a special instructor for the organization. Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, who played for Kelly on the 1987 World Series-winning club, managed the World team.
In an ode to his Dutch heritage and class-clown personality, Blyleven presented the lineups before the game while wearing an oversized pair of yellow wooden shoes.