The Rangers' new hitting coach is getting rave reviews from just about anyone worth asking.
Anthony Iapoce served as the minor-league hitting coordinator for the Chicago Cubs organization over the past few years and has taken guys like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and several other top prospects under his wing and watched them become big leaguers. In Bryant's instance, he was the NL Rookie of the Year just this past season.
The comparisons between Bryant and Rangers power-hitting prospect Joey Gallo are easy to make. They're both young. They're both huge human beings. They both hit baseballs into orbit, and they're both from Las Vegas.
Iapoce discussed the similarities between the two in a discussion with the G-bag Nation on 105.3 The Fan, as well as their differences.
"I think everybody likes to compare them because they're in competition with each other because where they grew up. Kris is a little bit older. Kris turned down the Toronto Blue Jays actually when I was working with them. He turned them down in the 17th round and went off to college for three years. I think the comparison is at the Vegas thing [they both grew up in Las Vegas], that they know each other, they're both tall, they both hit the ball in the air extremely far, farther than a lot other people. It's just continually to learn for Joey. I got the chance to meet with Joey and hang with him. He hits the ball extremely hard. He's a great worker. The sky is the limit for Joey. That first year in the league is tough. One of the things that I talked to Kris about last year when I went up to the big leagues. I said, 'Hey. I'm going to Double-A next week. What do you want me to tell those guys?' He said, 'Man, I thought I was focused in Double-A and Triple-A. Up here, it's a way different type of focus pitch-to-pitch.' That takes learning. It takes confidence to battle and persevere through the down times. I think once you get beat up a little bit you get humbled and then bounce. Some guys go up and down for a bit. That's the thing about the big leagues. Nobody has the same time frame. Nobody knows when a guy is supposedly ready. I can remember being a coordinator and people would be like, 'Is he ready?' And you're just like, 'He's the best player in Triple-A. I don't know if he's going to be ready.'"
Like Iapoce said, Bryant is two years older and played college ball, so he was able to get a little more seasoning. But Gallo very well could find himself a day-to-day role at some point in 2016 with the Rangers after he undoubtedly will start the season in the minors.
One thing is for certain, the future for Gallo and Bryant is bright, and Iapoce will have his hand in both players' success.