First Pitch: Stetson Allie’s Improved Command

Earlier today I posted a stat line on Stetson Allie from yesterday’s outing. If you’re wondering where this new and improved Stetson Allie came from, well then you probably weren’t paying much attention to what I was saying about Allie starting at the end of last year.

Ironically, the first time I saw Stetson Allie pitch live was one year ago today. Here is the video of that outing.

Notice the horrible control. In fact, I think implying that there is control is a bit misleading. There’s no secret why Allie went to extended Spring Training last year.

The next time I saw Allie was in his debut at State College. His command was much improved in the first inning, although he started to fall apart in the second inning, and eventually was pulled early.

I saw Allie’s final outing of the season, and the results were much different. He wasn’t wild this time. His pitches still missed their spots at time, but not to the point where they were way off the mark. The thing that stood out to me was his final at-bat. Allie threw the first pitch inside at 95 MPH. And when I say inside, I mean inside the batter’s box. The next pitch was a fastball on the outside part of the plate at 93 MPH, just out of reach of the swing. Allie came back inside, pushing the batter off the plate again. The next one was again on the outside part of the plate. He finished off with a 94 MPH fastball low and away on a downward plane to get the strikeout. It was part of a 14 pitch inning where he retired the side in order.

It was one inning, but I saw Allie do what I hadn’t seen him do before: command the fastball. He was moving the pitch to both sides of the plate, when at the start of the year he had trouble even finding the plate. He was also throwing on a downward plane, with some great movement, making his stuff very hard to hit.

I’ve gotten a few videos of Allie throwing this Spring. They’re limited to live batting practice, and a strikeout versus Josh Bell. But if you look at the video above, and look at the videos below, you can see the difference.

Allie is far from a completed project. But I think one thing has been lost throughout this entire process: he’s new to pitching. It shouldn’t be surprising that he’s improving. He first started pitching his senior year of high school. Last year was his second year as a pitcher. The Pirates didn’t draft him because they thought he was a finished product. The Pirates drafted him because he’s got a great arm, with a plus-slider. The latter pitch is something that often gets overlooked when only focusing on Allie’s fastball.

There’s a reason I put Allie on the cover of the 2012 Prospect Guide, along with Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Luis Heredia. A lot of people wouldn’t put him in that group. Most have him written off as a reliever, with no shot of being a starter. That stance seems to be based on the idea that it’s hard for a pitcher to add control. In normal circumstances I’d agree. If Allie had been pitching for years, and still struggled with control, I’d be much more surprised with his improvements to date. But don’t forget that Allie is relatively new to pitching. It’s not a normal situation where a guy is learning how to add control. It’s a situation where a guy is learning how to pitch, rather than how to throw.

Allie still has a lot of work to do, as would any pitcher with only two years of pitching experience. But don’t be shocked by Allie’s improvements this Spring. They’re nothing more than a continuation of the improvements I’ve been talking about for the last six months. And considering that Allie is in the process of learning how to pitch, we should probably expect more improvements to come.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates lost 7-2 to Detroit. Game story here, including a look at whether Charlie Morton will be ready for the season.

**Pedro Alvarez has been sidelined with knee discomfort.

**Matt Hague is looking to hit his way in to Pittsburgh. By the way, if Alvarez has to start the year on the disabled list with this injury, then I’d put Casey McGehee at third base, and I’d #FreeMattHague and start him at first. I saw Alvarez playing the other day at Pirate City, and he didn’t look like he was experiencing any issues.

**Prospect Notebook: Bryan Morris is working on a cutter, and I talked with a scout about Rudy Owens

**Pirates Notebook: Erik Bedard is looking forward to his Opening Day start.

  • “**Matt Hague is looking to hit his way in to Pittsburgh.
    By the way, if Alvarez has to start the year on the disabled list with
    this injury, then I’d put Casey McGehee at third base, and I’d
    #FreeMattHague and start him at first. I saw Alvarez playing the other
    day at Pirate City, and he didn’t look like he was experiencing any
    issues.”

    Tim………You are talking my language!!!

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