2012 draft: Interview with top high school prospect Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo ranks among the top players for the upcoming 2012 MLB Draft.

Joey Gallo is arguably the top power hitter in the 2012 draft. At 6’-5” and 220 pounds, the left-hander is currently rated the number-five high school prospect by Keith Law at ESPN and is a lock to be selected in the first round. After hitting 25 home runs in just 121 at-bats as a junior for powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Reno, Nevada, he is hitting .514 with 21 home runs and 80 RBI through 38 games this season. Over his 155 game career, he is hitting .468 with 66 home runs, 250 RBI and a 1.618 OPS. I recently had a chance to bounce some questions off Joey and would like to thank him for his time during this busy time of the year and wish him the best of luck with the draft.

You are going to leave Bishop Gorman, one of the premier baseball programs in the country, with nearly every offensive record in school history and the most decorated player to have ever played there. What is your fondest memory there, and what will you miss the most?

My fondest memory at Bishop Gorman High School was winning the state championship my freshman year. It was the first state championship I won, so it definitely felt the best. I’ll miss being apart of the team; I’ve been with most of these guys since I was 10 years old, so it’s going to be hard realizing I’m not going to play with them again.

You had two home runs and 21 RBI through your first 14 games. Since then, you have hit 19 home runs with 59 RBI over your last 24 games, including a four home run game against Clark on April 18. Did you change your approach at the plate, or are you just seeing the ball better these days?

I made some adjustments in my swing since then, and I ended up getting hot and was confident swinging the bat. So yes, I am seeing the ball a lot better now than I was the beginning of the year.

Speaking of that four home run game, when Josh Hamilton hit four in a game a week ago, I heard some people saying that he pulled a Gallo. Did you ever think your name would be part of pop culture?

Haha! Yeah, I heard the same. And no I didn’t! It was really cool though seeing that.

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You were a major part of the U18 Team USA Baseball squad that went 9-0 in the Pan Am Championships held in Colombia this past fall, winning a gold medal and outscoring your opponents 88-8. Except for underclassmen Jeremy Martinez and Chris Okey, that whole team could get drafted in the first two rounds. What was that experience like and what did you take away from it?

We had an amazing team. Some of the best players in the nation playing on the same team in a different country. You would think there would be some adversity. But there wasn’t at all. We all got along really well. Everyone was just there to win a gold medal. I made some lifelong friends there, and that’s the best thing I took away from it.

 Aside from your offensive abilities, you also excel on the mound with a fastball that can hit the upper-90s and a very good curveball. What gets you pumped up more, hitting a home run or an inning ending strikeout on the mound?

They both fire me up. But I have to go with the home run.

What part of your game did you work on the most this season?

Hitting for average, and my defense.

What would you tell the fans of the team that drafts you what they are getting in Joey Gallo?

I’d say they are getting a hard-working kid, who loves to win.

Who has been the biggest influence in your baseball career?

My mother and father.

You have a commitment to Louisiana State. Why did you choose LSU and what was it about the university that impressed you the most?

It only took going to one LSU baseball game for me to realize where I wanted to play my college baseball. The atmosphere is unlike any other. I love the coaches there, as well. I felt like I fit in best with LSU. The most impressive thing about LSU is the 10,000 fans they get a game!

 When did your love for the game start?

When I was three years old. I started playing tee ball with my six-year-old brother.

 Best baseball movie ever made?

I have to go with The Sandlot.

 Last question, and it’s kind of a bet I have with some friends. Who is the bigger man on campus, Joey Gallo or Shabazz Muhammad?

Unfortunately, Shabazz! He’s always stealing my thunder haha!

Again, I’d like to thank Joey for his time. Also, for those who don’t know, Shabazz Muhammad is the consensus top player in the 2012 basketball class and a favorite to be the number-one pick overall in the 2013 NBA draft.

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