Rangers’ fans had been salivating about his potential since the day the team acquired him as a teenager.
Scouts and experts touted him as one of baseball’s top can’t-miss prospects.
He dazzled in the minors, then maximized his hype with a home run in the All-Star Futures Game.
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Finally, in his long-anticipated Major League Baseball debut, he stepped into the left-handed batter’s box wearing No. 13 for the Rangers and slapped a debut homer that sent fans buzzing and raised his bar of expectations to irrational heights.
You remember Jurickson Profar, right?
As energizing and tantalizing as Joey Gallo’s smashing debut was last night in Arlington, you don’t have to look far to remember that baseball loves to tease us.
With three hits, a homer and four RBI in his first game, Gallo at least dented the Internet last night. He almost hit two homers, in fact going into his home-run trot as “The Natural” began to blare at Globe Life Park before the ball merely caromed off the wall for a double. So enthralling was his performance that in the 6th inning the 27,000 fans gave him a standing ovation – after a strikeout with the bases loaded.
I’ve been a Rangers fan since they moved from D.C. in 1972. And Gallo’s debut – and the hype surrounding it – is right up there with the arrivals of 18-year-old pitcher David Clyde in ’73, 19-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez in ’91 and, yep, the 19-year-old Profar just three years ago.
While Pudge lived up to his billing as a Hall-of-Fame career and the greatest Ranger of all-time, Clyde won his debut but went 18-33 and was out of baseball by ’80. And Profar, paused by shoulder injuries, has hit just six more homers since his Sept. 2012 debut while missing all of this year and last. And Gallo’s company with his opening performance? The other players to start with three hits and four RBI: Mark Quinn, Bob Nieman and Merl Combs.
Barring an injury or baseball’s cruel sense of humor, Gallo should be setting and re-setting the records for longest homers in Arlington for years to come. Over his last 161 pro games he has 52 blasts.
But unless he – of course he won’t, will he? – continues this torrid pace, Gallo will return to the minors when Adrian Beltre’s thumb heals. If he doesn’t get another hit, it’s already been a successful cameo.
But it isn’t enough to ensure his future. Right, Jurickson?
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.