Remember this name: Joey Gallo. On the evening of Sunday, August 14, in his first at-bat in the 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park, the left-handed hitting Gallo drove a pitch into the beach beyond right-center field. He hit the ball 442 feet, the 10th longest drive in Petco Park history, with a wood bat.
Among the 7,953 in attendance was one talent evaluator I talked to who has seen a lot of games at Petco. He said he couldn’t recall many balls being hit harder there than Gallo’s blast.
In his second trip to the plate, the 6’5″, 205 lb. Gallo (Bishop Gorman High School, Henderson, Nev.) walked on four pitches. He fouled out to third base in the fifth, and even that ball was well struck. He hit it straight up in the air, but as the cliche goes, it sounded different off his bat.
Gallo didn’t get a fourth chance, being left on deck as the West team took its final licks in the eighth. Still, the homer was enough to earn him MVP honors for the game.
Here’s something else I liked. Gallo started the game playing first base and finished at third. At one point, while he was playing third, someone hit a pop foul between home plate and first base. The first baseman caught the ball, but Gallo had hustled over from third to help out if needed.
Other items of note:
- East outfielder Jameis Winston (Hueytown High School, Hueytown, Ala.) had a fun fourth inning, mostly at the expense of West catcher C.J. Saylor (South Hills High School, West Covina, Calif.). After singling to right, Winston broke for second. Saylor double-clutched on the throw, allowing Winston to sneak in just ahead of the tag. Winston then took third on a passed ball. Finally, with his team down, 6-1, Winston stole home as Saylor was throwing the ball back to his pitcher. Heads-up play, perfectly executed.
- Former Padres right-hander Lance McCullers’ eponymous kid worked a perfect second for the East. McCullers, who attends the same high school (Jesuit High School, Tampa, Fla.) that produced former Padres infielder/hitting coach Dave Magadan, had his fastball clocked at 96 mph.
- East shortstop Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Bo. Rincon, Gurabo, P.R.) drove a ball to the wall in left-center field in the first inning. Defensively, he seemed to hang back a bit on grounders rather than charging them. He looked like a good athlete.
- Correa’s teammate, Addison Russell (Pace High School, Pace, Fla.; alma mater of former Padres first-round pick Drew Cumberland), looked smooth at second base and shortstop (he and Correa traded spots at least once during the game), showing a strong arm and good situational awareness.
- West’s Trey Williams (Valencia High School, Valencia, Calif.) made two fine defensive plays, a sliding catch in left field in the second and a diving catch of a line drive to third base that ended the game.
- West left-hander Hunter Virant (Camarillo High School, Camarillo, Calif.) worked himself into and out of a jam in the eighth. He started the inning HBP, BB, HBP, BB (after an 0-2 count) before notching two strikeouts and inducing a grounder to third to escape without further damage.
- Local kid Corey Oswalt played but didn’t do much. Still, he received a nice round of applause. Oswalt attends James Madison High School, which produced former big-league right-hander Al Fitzmorris (who signed with the Padres in 1979 but never made it up to the big club). I live about midway between Madison and Kearny (Alan Trammell), so it’s always fun to see those guys.
These showcases are always a lot of fun, and they don’t cost much ($5 for seats right behind home plate). Plus you never know who you might see. Current Padres Cameron Maybin (2004) and Mat Latos (2005) are among the many big leaguers who once played in this game.