6/12/2014 2:05 P.M. ET
Gallo, Gonzalez have strong debuts for Frisco
By Grace Raynor / MLB.com
FRISCO, Texas -- The loud pop music blared as the flashing disco lights bounced off the walls of the clubhouse.
The smell of sweat and dirt created a deep musk that filled the air, while managers made trips in and out of the clubhouse to load equipment bags onto the elevator for the 12-game road trip that began the next day.
It seemed like any other postgame victory celebration -- and perhaps it was. The Frisco Rough Riders, a Rangers affiliate, beat the Oakland A's Double-A affiliate, the Midland RockHounds, 7-2, on Tuesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
But this time, two new faces had joined in on the celebration -- two new faces that had played a big role in the victory.
On Sunday, Joey Gallo and Alex "Chi-Chi" Gonzalez -- a nickname given to him by his great uncle -- were both promoted from high Class A Myrtle Beach to Double-A Frisco. Gallo, a third baseman, was a supplemental first-round pick in 2012 at 39th overall, while Gonzalez, a right-handed pitcher, was the Rangers' first pick in the 2013 Draft at 23rd overall.
Both players ascended to Double-A ball quickly and a bit unconventionally given their age -- Gallo is 20 and Gonzalez is 22. This is Gonzalez's first full professional season since being drafted.
But Tuesday, both proved they rightfully deserved spots in Frisco. The night before, Gallo had hit the walk-off three-run home run to give the Rough Riders a 7-4 victory against Midland. On Tuesday, he hit another bomb for his sixth RBI in seven at-bats.
"I'm feeling great," Gallo said Tuesday. "I worked pretty hard in the offseason and so far, things have been going well. Hopefully I'll keep that going."
After the walk-off homer Monday, Gallo and Gonzalez had teased each other about starting a friendly competition to see who would have the strongest performance in each of their Double-A debuts.
"We were talking about it in the room because we're roommates in the hotel, and he was pumped that he got a home run on his debut," Gonzalez said. "He was like, 'Yeah, hitting a home run for your first debut is like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter on the first debut.'''
Gonzalez nearly did that Tuesday, giving up just one hit while striking out six in five innings of work -- a pop fly to left field that the umpire initially ruled wasn't caught in the air, and then maintained after the call was challenged. Four of his five innings were perfect.
As Gonzalez anxiously waited on the mound while the play was under review, he immediately felt comfort when a 6-foot-5 Gallo walked over to stand with him during the delay.
"I was telling the umpire at second base [to] check the ball to see if there was any grass on it. And Joey heard me and he was like, 'Yeah, yeah, there wasn't any grass,''' Gonzalez said. "I wasn't looking at the umpire, but [Gallo] was trying to read their lips and tell me what they were saying. He was like, 'Oh, they're not overturning it.'
"But it was fun. It makes me more comfortable having him right there talking to me just like he would in Myrtle."
Gallo led the Minor Leagues in home runs in 2013 with 40 between Hickory and the AZL Rangers, and he was the first player with at least 40 home runs since Dick Simpson in 1942. Gonzalez was the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year in his last year at Oral Roberts University, and he was 5-2 with a 2.62 ERA in Myrtle Beach before his first start in Frisco.
"[The past few days] they've just been unreal. ... We got moved up together," Gonzalez said of the transition with Gallo. "When I got the ball, seeing him at third toss it to me, it was just like we were back playing ball in Myrtle."
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.