All’s Well with Allie in West Virginia

His story has been told several times, but it just gets more interesting with seemingly every at-bat.

Stetson Allie has an OPS of 1.093 in 19 games so far this season with West Virginia.

Stetson Allie has an OPS of 1.093 in 19 games so far this season with West Virginia.

Stetson Allie was drafted by the Pirates in the second round in 2010 and the club handed the hard-throwing right-hander from Ohio a hefty $2.25 million signing bonus. His performances on the mound were inconsistent at State College and West Virginia and eventually a decision had to be made. Would Allie continue to try and work through his command issues on the mound or attempt to make the conversion to a position player?

Allie, as you probably know by now, made the move to the infield and started his transformation from being a possible bust as a pitching prospect to being one of the most talked about players in the minor leagues for all the right reasons.

His stat line is more than impressive. Through 19 games with West Virginia this season he has a slash line of .367/.435/.658 with six home runs, 20 RBIs and four stolen bases.

Asked what Allie has been doing that has helped him be so successful in the first few weeks of this season, West Virginia manager Michael Ryan said the way Allie attacks at-bats has made him into a dangerous hitter.

“His approach at the plate,” Ryan said. “When he stays to right-center is when he’s at his best. He lets the ball get deep and he’s such a strong guy he can hit the ball out of the park anywhere. He stays on every pitch when he’s looking to right center.”

Allie’s numbers in his first season away from the mound left something to be desired. He had a .213/.340/.654 line with three home runs, 19 RBIs and 50 strikeouts in 150 at-bats with the Gulf Coast League Pirates. This season he’s been working with West Virginia hitting coach Orlando Merced and the results have spoken for themselves.

“I’m just getting my work in everyday and staying with the same approach,” Allie said after the Power’s win against Hagerstown last Sunday. “Yeah, I had three punchouts today but that’s the game of baseball. I’m just going to stick with the same thing I’ve been doing and it’ll be another day tomorrow. I’m seeing it well. My approach has been awesome.”

Through Wednesday’s game his strikeout numbers are still a bit higher than you like to see (24 in 79 at-bats) and he struggled some with breaking pitches, but when Allie does make contact (and he certainly has) good things tend to happen. His .367 batting average in ninth in the South Atlantic League, while his six home runs and 20 RBIs are each second-best in the SAL. He has also shown some patience at the plate with 11 walks.

“The work that he puts in at the cage and with Orlando, to see the results so quickly is pretty amazing for what he’s doing right now,” Ryan said. “He’s doing just fine right now. It just shows you the work that he’s putting in. It just shows his confidence and when he’s confident he’s one of the best players on the field. We’ll try to keep him as confident as we can.”

Allie admitted the transition has not been an easy one, but said that he loves what he does and he wouldn’t change anything.

“Just the everyday grind,” Allie said of the toughest part of moving from pitcher to first base. “There’s days where I feel like I can’t even pick up a bat but I’ve got to grind through it. I love everyday.”

Author: Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg is a beat writer and analyst for PiratesProspects.com. He is the former sports editor of the (Fairmont) Times West Virginian and has worked at the Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and the (Ashland, Ky.) Independent. His freelance work has appeared in newspapers all over West Virginia and he has written for The Associated Press with stories posted to several major media outlets (ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, FoxSports.com). Tom graduated from Marshall University in May 2010 with a degree in Print Journalism. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomBraggSports

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  • leadoff

    It is amazing how many people jumped on the Pirates for allowing this transition from pitcher to position player, I wonder where the know-it-alls are now. I am in no way saying Allie is going to be a star or even make it to the bigs, but he is definitely on the road he should be on.
    There once was a guy that was a pitcher and he was doing very badly and someone suggested he try a position because he could always hit, his name was Stan Musial.

  • leadoff

    Allie looks more like a power lifter than a baseball player. Could he be the second coming of Greg Luzinski.

  • Jason

    “My approach has been awesome.” You can’t say he lacks confidence.

    • BDevito

      I know him well. My guess is that his intention was to compliment Orlando Merced’s work with him and he is happy with the results he is getting as a consequence of it. But it does sort of come out the way you are referring to. He’s not over-the-top cocky or anything just young and having fun with this as compared to the stress of pitching with mixed results those first 2 years.

      • Tom Bragg

        Absolutely BDevito. I got the impression that he’s a confident young man but not quite cocky. Seems like a good guy just having fun.

      • Jason

        Good point, BDevito. I was wrong to insinuate that he was cocky. I just loved the genuine statement from Allie.

        • BDevito

          You’re all good. I just want to see him get some fan support built up.

        • BDevito

          I frequent the Gawker message boards where 99% of comments are just sarcastic snarkisms so I think I’ve been primed to instantly interpret everything that way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/benjaminmcferren Benjamin McFerren

    Whenever they promote Allie, they should promote Merced along with him

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.rothermund Ian Rothermund

    I’ll say this much. At the time, I was very much against him switching over to the field last year. That being said, you really can’t argue with results. In the end, if he could have put it together as a starting pitcher; with that fastball/slider combo, plus a change up to throw in every once in a while, then I’d have to say I’m still against it. However, if his upside was only that of a power reliever, then switching to the field was a good move. Power relievers are a dime a dozen….a power hitting corner infielder in this system, though, very valuable.

  • leadoff

    Tom any chance that Allie makes the top ten on our prospects list this year?

    • Tom Bragg

      Hard to say this early in the year but if he keeps his production going at this rate I’d have a hard time leaving him out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

    I havent seen him up close but how is his weight? He looks like a guy like Pedro Alvarez…he is always going to be trying to keep it under control. Not that it is a big deal but it just looks like he is going to have to get real disciplined as he approaches his mid-20′s.

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      he looks pretty much just like he did when he was drafted minus the long hair. and, unlike Pedro, his weight gain looks to be muscle around the torso while el Toro’s weight issues are his lower half.
      Allie is a decent athlete.

      • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

        Thanks WA. He’s built like a bigger Jim Leyritz. Hopefully he can jump to AA to start next year and make that big adjustment. He seems to be learning at an exponential level. Great to see some power hitters in the system…Greg Polanco looks incredible. I think he will play in the majors at some point next year. His plate discipline is phenomenal for a young player. I drool thinking about a Marte, Cutch, Polanco OF.

  • ianmonk

    He looks like a bull, how much weight has he gained since last year? He puts Evan Gattis to shame.

    • BDevito

      He’s been the same height I think (within an inch or so) since sophomore year and had very wide, athletic build and is only now actually filling that out with more muscle as stated above. It’s not an El Guapo-type situation where he appears to have eaten an entire Subaru hatchback. Reminds me of Jim Thome’s change from rookie year with tribe to the first few years in MLB.

      • Ericfg

        Not that I doubt you BD, but that picture at the top of the article is NOT flattering and is frankly alarming. When I first saw it I said ‘no….that can’t be him’. I’ll google some more images of him but my thoughts are ‘advanced pitchers are going to pitch inside, under that gut, and there’s no way he can get the hands there in time.’

        • BDevito

          That was my first thought too when I heard about trying to go to right field to get arms extended for best results. I wondered what would happen on more frequent inside pitches when you have a thought in your head to go opposite field, hard to do on an inside pitch. But I’m no batting instructor so I figure they have a plan that includes how to handle that or else telling everyone your strategy just gives pitchers a gameplan. He’s got quick hands though I assure you. When I’m looking at the above picture you are referencing I’m seeing pectoral muscles further out than a stomach. Guys like Albert Belle managed to do it with a much bigger gut than Stets. If you compare to Jason Hayworth

          • BDevito

            Not Hayworth, Jason Werth, then yes he would look huge. I would suppose they are taking into account he can still turn on an inside pitch if that’s all he gets otherwise telling everyone you are only going opposite field just invites more inside pitches and/or a defensive shift. So hopefully they have covered this contingency.