Jerome Miron / USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers Notes: Joey Gallo Gets Shot At Third Base With Injury To Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre is starting the season on the disabled list and Joey Gallo is starting in his spot on opening day. Gallo has struggled to maintain a presence on the big league squad and needs to show improvement in order to have a future with the team.

According to Jared Sandler of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Texas Rangers' third baseman Adrian Beltre will begin the season on the disabled list.

This is obviously not good news for the Texas Rangers as Beltre is the leader of the team both on and off the field. However with every injury comes an opportunity for a younger player to step up. In this case, that opportunity belongs to Joey Gallo.

Gallo is somewhat of an enigma for the Texas Rangers and as such 2017 is an important year for both himself and the club. They must both figure out what his future looks like and if in fact that future is in Texas or elsewhere. Gallo experienced a meteoric rise through the Rangers’ minor league system and gave fans hope that he was their next big slugger, with back to back 40 plus home run years in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 he made his Major League debut and while he had some success (6 home runs), he struggled to make consistent contact hitting just .204 with 57 strike outs in just 36 games. Since his major league debut, Gallo’s struggle with contact has continued and in 2016 he appeared in just 17 games, striking out 19 times in just 25 at bats.

This spring Gallo has worked constantly on his approach at the plate, trying to make more contact and limit the strikeouts that have plagued him much of his young career. While he started out slow, the Rangers liked what they saw and Gallo started to see results as well, hitting .346 with 3 home runs over his final 9 Spring Training games. Gallo hoped that would be enough to earn himself a spot on the Rangers and due to the Beltre injury it was. While Gallo will get some much need and valuable playing time early this season, the real problem will be once Beltre returns. Gallo doesn’t have a defined role on this squad and that will make it difficult to evaluate his progress moving forward.

This is not a new problem for the Rangers.  Recognize the names Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Davis? Yes, they are two of the best sluggers in the game today who both started out in the Rangers organization. Adrian Gonzalez was once just like Joey Gallo. The Rangers had hopes that he would be a successful slugger on the Major League team but he slogged through the minor leagues and then seemed blocked by Mark Texiera who had cemented himself as one of the best first basemen in the game. The Rangers traded away Gonzalez in 2007 to San Diego where he would go on to flourish, meanwhile Texiera was traded away before the end of 2008 and the Rangers were left rebuilding with both sluggers on other teams.

Chris Davis was also a Texas Ranger and burst onto the scene in 2008 with 17 home runs followed up by a 21 home run campaign in 2009. Davis struggled in 2010 and when back up first basemen Mitch Moreland hit a game changing home run in game 3 of the 2010 World Series, Davis’s fate was all but sealed. Texas traded away Davis in the middle of the 2011 season, convinced that Moreland was their best option. Since that time Davis has hit 199 home runs to Moreland’s 111. Moreland didn’t pan out like the Rangers thought he would and now he is a member of the Boston Red Sox, having signed a deal with them this past winter.

The Rangers had hoped that Gallo would be ready to fill the void Moreland left this off-season but he is not. As a result the team signed an aging Mike Napoli as a stop gap. Joey Gallo needs to take advantage of his opportunity and find a way to stay on the Major League team and get at bats. He has to show that he has what it takes to be key player for the Rangers. If he doesn’t he will likely be somewhere next year and the Rangers will still be looking for the slugger they have long looked for and often let slip from their grasp. 

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