FRISCO, Texas –– On Monday night at Northwest Arkansas, Frisco RoughRiders third baseman Joey Gallo, the Rangers’ No. 5 prospect, smashed one of three Frisco home runs in a 6-1 win over the Naturals.
But the big headline surrounding the young Texas slugger was the fact that Gallo, 20, played first base for the first time in the Texas organization.
Naturally, with the young Las Vegas native seeing time at first and the Rangers currently being on their fifth third baseman of the season in recent addition Carlos Pena, speculation immediately began that Gallo was getting a look across the diamond because the Ranger brass had thoughts of having him play first if and when he gets promoted to Arlington at some point this season.
However, according to Rangers Field Coordinator Jayce Tingler, Gallo will play first only on an occasional basis going forward and there are currently no plans to move him there on a permanent basis.
"It was just something to get him kind of off third one day a week. He’ll probably play first once a week, DH and then four or five (games) at third," Tingler said. "To be honest with you, there’s really nothing there except just trying to get him off his feet a little bit."
Gallo recalls that the last time he played at first prior to Monday had been during his time with Team USA about three years ago when he was 17.
But as someone who has been a regular at third for most of his 253 games to date in the organization, getting an occasional start across the diamond is something he welcomes.
"It’s an easy position for me. I played there growing up a little bit. I really do like it over there. It’s nice to get a break," Gallo said.
And he reiterated exactly what Tingler said, that starting at first was far from a sign that the Rangers envisioned him as one day being a first baseman in the big leagues no matter how much fans and others who follow the team want that to be true.
"We talked about it, it’s nothing that has to do with anything above me. It’s just so I can get a break and not have to DH. I can go to first and still be in the game instead of not being on the field. It was just kind of a break for my legs," Gallo said.
For those wondering, after having a day off on Tuesday, Frisco started a series with Corpus Christi on Wednesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark, and RoughRiders manager Jason Wood put Gallo fifth in the order and he returned to his normal position of third base.
Tingler said the idea of giving Gallo an occasional start at first had been kicked around for a few weeks before he got his first game there earlier this week. And while it can be different for every player, moving from third to first was a transition that proved to be pretty seamless.
"Yeah, for me it is," Gallo said. "Obviously, it’s different with other guys. But I’ve played there and I’ve got pretty good experience over there, so it’s pretty simple, pretty easy for me."
Tingler wasn’t surprised that it was such an easy transition for Gallo, even if playing first base will be only an occasional thing going forward.
"He’s so athletic and he’s got good speed. It’s a very simple adjustment for him, going third over to first. It’s been pretty simple, at least for the first game," Tingler said.
Moving across the diamond can be an easy switch for some players but others can struggle with such a change, but Tingler has been pleased with what he’s seen from Gallo, no matter whether it’s been at third base or in his one game to date at first.
"I think it’s all kind of individual with the individual players. With some guys, you think that it’s going to be an easy transition and for whatever reason, they struggle with it. Other guys, it’s very simple," Tingler said. "For Joey, it seems to be fairly easy."