First Pitch: The Unpredictable Stetson Allie
I have a new rule for Stetson Allie. Whatever he’s doing in Spring Training, I’m going to take the opposite and that’s going to be my prediction for the year.
Last year — when Allie was a pitcher — I thought he looked good in Spring Training. That wasn’t just me. That was the opinion of other people who were watching, whether that was scouts, other people on the site, or coaches and players. It was a continuation of what I saw at the end of the 2011 season. Allie was showing a bit more control and command of his pitches. He was starting to look like a guy who could make it to the majors as a power arm.
Then he went to West Virginia. And it was a disaster. In two appearances he recorded just two outs, giving up four runs and walking eight batters in the process. That was nothing at all like his Spring. The Pirates eventually switched him to becoming a hitter.
This year Allie didn’t look promising as a hitter. Early in camp he was swinging at everything, showing very little patience at the plate. He was striking out at least once per game when I was seeing him. In the later part of camp he started hitting better, and wasn’t striking out as frequently. But the power wasn’t there.
Then he went to West Virginia. And it was the opposite of a disaster. Tonight Allie hit his sixth homer in just 56 at-bats. He’s got a .411/.469/.804 line. He’s not striking out as much as he was last year, and he’s walking more. That was nothing at all like his Spring.
In the early part of the season, Allie ranks fourth in the South Atlantic League in average and on-base percentage. He ranks first in hits, home runs, RBIs, total bases, and slugging percentage (leading second place by 107 points). His OPS is also first, and is 105 points higher than second place.
Is he this year’s breakout player? He’s definitely on the right track. I’d caution against making any long-term projections based on about 50 at-bats. But then again, we started focusing on Alen Hanson as a breakout prospect after 104 at-bats in April, when he hit for a .410/.434/.695 line with four homers. Allie’s numbers are better across the board than Hanson’s, although he’s a few years older than Hanson was.
It’s too early to say that Allie is a breakout player. But he’s definitely on the radar. The Pirates don’t have a first base prospect in the system who can hit for plus power. If this continues with Allie, he could be that first baseman. How crazy would it be if Stetson Allie was the long-term answer at first base, and a legit power hitter? I was never on board with him moving to being a hitter, since I felt he had more upside as a pitcher. If he works out as a hitter, I will gladly say I was wrong, and it’s looking like we’re heading down that path. Of course I’m not going to project that. If I did, then based on my history at projecting Allie’s future, he’d just strike out every at-bat from here forward, and the Pirates would trade him to the Penguins so he could be a winger for when Sidney Crosby returns.
Links and Notes
**The 2013 Prospect Guide and the 2013 Annual are both available on the products page of the site. If you order them together, you’ll save $5.