Joey Gallo had most likely never struggled in life like he did last baseball season.
In fact, the slugging Rangers prospect said it was the "toughest year" of his life.
It's easy to see why. A guy who undoubtedly mashed in high school and mashed his way up the ranks in the Rangers' farm system, never skipping a beat with each step up, making the MLB Futures Game and leading the minors in home runs.
Then, he made an unexpected MLB debut last summer when Adrian Beltre went down and homered in his first two games, driving in a handful of runs in his big-league debut. He was seen as a can't miss prodigy. A sure thing.
Then, the struggles started as Gallo became a strikeout machine and started losing at-bats when Beltre returned.
His final stat line in the bigs? Try a .204 batting average, .301 on-base percentage, three doubles, a triple, six homers, 14 RBIs and 15 walks with 57 strikeouts in 36 games. You read that right: 57 strikeouts in 36 games.
"It was the toughest year of my life," Gallo told the Dallas Morning News. "You feel like you are failing every single day. I needed to get away and miss the game again. When I went home last season, I was mad."
So instead of playing in fall or winter ball, Gallo just went home and didn't worry about baseball for a bit. Instead, he worried about fixing his mind with the help of longtime mentor Jason Giambi, a fellow Las Vegas native.
"Jason is more of a mental coach for me,"Gallo said of the former longtime MLB vet and future big-league manager. "We talked about staying even-keeled, about staying positive and about having a base. If you have that, when you get out of whack, you have something to fall back on. I know I've got a lot to work on. My goal is to bring what I worked on in the offseason into spring training."
In an ideal world, Gallo wouldn't see the bigs in 2016, as it'd be preferred for the Rangers to keep him in the minors all year and maybe only bring him up for a September callup. Time will tell if injuries and baseball will allow that.
Whatever the case, Rangers skipper Jeff Banister said he's glad to see his young prospect taking the right approach after the worst season of his baseball career.
"All players go through failure," Banister said. "They've got to learn to go through it. I'm glad he's acknowledged it. How he comes back from it, that's his next step."