2012 MLB Draft Q & A: Joey Gallo

Bishop Gorman H.S. infielder Joey Gallo

Our 2012 MLB Draft Q & A series continues with an interview with Bishop Gorman High School (NV) slugger Joey Gallo, who is ranked as the draft's #11 prospect by Frankie Piliere. Inside Gallo discusses his playing days with the U18 Team USA squad, his thoughts about those who question his defense, how he's looking to go opposite field even more and playing in Reno with Bryce Harper.

For a complete scouting report on Gallo from Scout.com's National Baseball Expert Frankie Piliere, see: 2012 Draft Scouting Report: Joey Gallo.

For scouting video of Gallo, see: 2012 MLB Draft Scouting Video: Joey Gallo.

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Rays Digest: You are fresh off of winning another state title with Bishop Gorman High School, who have won seven in a row now. How'd it feel to go out with another win?

Joey Gallo: It's an amazing feeling, but we kind of expected that. It was a little harder than we thought, but I'm glad to go out on top.

Rays Digest: At the high school level, there are lesser quality hitters in your lineup and you were pitched around as a result. How much did you have to swing out of the zone and press at the plate because of that?

Joey Gallo: I wouldn't say I did it much because we usually had a pretty good amount of offense every game. But there was obviously games like in Reno, for example, where I got walked six times in three games and three were intentional walks. Sometimes I do, though. Sometimes borderline strikes, I swing at and try to make things happen — it's just part of the game.

Rays Digest: At a young you played with Bryce Harper. How was that experience and how did his presence affect you in the lineup?

Joey Gallo: I think we started playing when I was seven and he was eight and we played together until we were about 12 years old. It was a great experience. We used to hit in the three and four-holes and we had a pretty good club ball team. We were destroying teams. I still talk to him all the time and he's a really close friend of mine. He hit third and I hit fourth. They usually walked him and then pitched to me. Then they figured out that I could hit, too.

Rays Digest: What is your approach at the plate?

Joey Gallo: When I go out there for a team like Team USA, I try to hit the first best pitch I see and it's usually a fastball. My approach is to just be aggressive; if I get a pitch early in the zone early in the count then I'm going to go for it. In high school I had to be a lot more patient. I had 40 walks and it was tough. I would see curveballs on every pitch, even 3-0 curveballs.

Rays Digest: What have you taken away from your experience with Team USA and how have you grown as a player because of it?

Joey Gallo: First off, playing in a different country is unbelievable and it was tough. We had all this adversity because of the different weather, different fields and just a different environment. We played in front of 20,000 Colombian fans who just wanted to rip our heads off and it made us stronger as a team.

Rays Digest: How much have you thought about the upcoming draft? What are some of your thoughts concerning it?

Joey Gallo: I try not to think about it too much, but I am excited to see how everything pans out. But I'm very excited to play baseball at LSU as well and I think that's the best college baseball program. If things don't work out then I'm all for going to college to play baseball.

Rays Digest: What will your decision-making process be after the draft in terms of deciding whether or not to sign with a team or go to school? What kinds of things are you and your family looking for from an organization?

Joey Gallo: I still haven't talked it over yet with my family. We would just have to see where I'm comfortable going, money and the situation, but it's something that I haven't really thought about.

Rays Digest: A lot of draft experts have been critics of your defensive capabilities. How comfortable are you at the corner infield positions and how would you rate yourself defensively?

Joey Gallo: I don't think I could be more comfortable. I love playing third base and I love playing first base, too, which is where I play with Team USA. I feel comfortable at both. A lot of writers say I'm not real good at defense and all this and I think it's because of my size. They think I'm 6'5, not athletic and I can't make plays. I couldn't disagree more, I think I proved this spring when they came and watched me play high school baseball that I can handle myself over at third base and I have a pretty good arm. I think my defense is as good as it's ever been.

Rays Digest: What is your in-season and off-season workout routine like?

Joey Gallo: Me and a couple of my teammates work out four or five days a week with a personal trainer during the whole off-season. We'd have practice every day and I would wake up at six o'clock and go to school, go to practice, go to the gym and then get home at eight at night. I've worked hard and I put in the work that I think I should be putting in.

Rays Digest: What do you make of the comparisons to Adam Dunn, the Chicago White Sox designated hitter?

Joey Gallo: I think it's really cool to be compared to a major league guy like Adam Dunn who has incredible power. But obviously it's misleading sometimes, too, because I haven't played in a college game yet. I think it's based on projections and what I could be but it's amazing when you hear your name compared to someone like that.

Rays Digest: Do you ever get caught up in anything like that?

Joey Gallo: No, I try not to and I try to stay away from all that stuff. On any given day, I can be the worst player on the field or the best player on the field.

Rays Digest: What is your favorite MLB team? What player do you admire the most?

Joey Gallo: I've always loved Derek Jeter. It's probably not a good comparison to the player that I am but I've always loved the way he handles himself. He plays the game hard every time and he respects the game. I've been a Yankees fan my whole life so I've grown up watching him. I try to model my attitude toward the game just like his.

Rays Digest: Why did you choose to commit to LSU?

Joey Gallo: The competition in the SEC is the best in Division I baseball. I've also always wanted to play in front of big crowds. As I was searching for colleges, I found LSU and saw that they have the biggest crowds and learned about their tradition. I love that and I want to go into a program and play in front of 10,000 people who care about the game. Coming from the west coast, college baseball is nothing over here and it's disappointing.

Rays Digest: What part of your game are you looking to improve?

Joey Gallo: I've been working on improving my swing and not trying to swing so hard all the time and be looser at the plate. I've also been working on driving the ball the other way for the past year or so and it's been paying off. This spring I did really well and I had a lot of home runs to the opposite field. I don't want to be just a pull kind of guy. I want to be a guy who can drive the ball all over the place with power.

Rays Digest: When you aren't playing baseball or in school, what kinds of things do you like to do? What are your hobbies?

Joey Gallo: Living in Las Vegas you would think I would be into a lot of crazy stuff but I just like hanging out with my friends and having a good time.

Rays Digest: Who have been your biggest influences for you both as a player and a person?

Joey Gallo: Before I even knew what was going on I had a baseball bat in my hand. I was playing with my brother when I was 3-years-old and he was 6-years-old on a tee-ball team. My parents put a bat in my hand and I loved it ever since. My dad was my coach when I was younger until I was about 14-years-old. He taught me everything I know about the game. Everything I do now is because of my dad. And my mom was really great and she drove me around all across town to every game and every practice. Those are my two biggest mentors; my mom and my dad.



Will Sammon is the Montgomery Biscuits beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @WillSammon.

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