Stetson Allie, Pirates Press The Reset Button

Stetson Allie sat, staring at the ground as Rockies farmhand Drew Beuerlein verbally tore into him. Moments before, the 240-pound Allie delivered a glancing blow on a home plate collision, unable to jar the ball loose from the 24-year-old catcher. As teammates took the field, Allie continued to sit as if he’d been shaken up during impact. The pitcher-turned-first-baseman eventually rose to his feet and gingerly took two steps towards the third base dugout before he quickened his pace.

Instead of responding with words, Allie punished Beuerlein’s pitchers. First, a fifth-inning sacrifice fly capped a three-run inning against supplemental first-round pick Eddie Butler. Then, a leadoff double by Allie started a six-run inning and put the game out of reach. Finally, Allie singled and scored a run in the ninth to complete a perfect day at the plate.

Allie’s failure, and subsequent success in this particular game mirrored his career path to date. As a pitcher with a career line of 37 walks and 10 wild pitches in just 26 2/3 innings, it would have been easy for Allie to keep his head down. Instead, both he and the Pirates organization came together on a new plan, and it’s re-shaping the 22-year-old’s career.

“It’s been a blast and a blessing,” Allie says of his shift from pitcher to everyday player. “It fits my personality. I’m an everyday type guy, and I need to keep moving.” The result so far has been a triple-slash line of .351/.409/.660 while splitting time between first base and designated hitter.

Kyle Stark, the Pirates’ assistant general manager, agrees. “The path [Allie] was on wasn’t working, so we stepped away from the situation to focus on what about baseball brings him joy.”

But things hadn’t been working so well. Allie started taking batting practice and hoped it would make him feel like an everyday player. As both he and the Pirates’ folks discussed the future, Stark was direct with the pitcher. “Closers in the minor leagues don’t become closers in the major leagues,” Stark told Allie. With no discernible path to the majors on the mound, Allie finished 2012 in the Gulf Coast League as a first baseman.

There were some adjustments to make. Not only did he hit just .213/.314/.340, Allie was trying too hard at the plate. “When I first started, I wanted to hit balls 600 feet,” Allie says. “I realized it just wasn’t going to work.” He stepped back, talked to hitting coaches and assessed his approach. Allie began by studying players who had similar right-handed swings as his, which was an important first move. From that he learned truly “dangerous hitters are ones who can hit the ball out to right field, too.”

Allie’s focus on becoming a well-rounded hitter has fueled his resurgence. “Philosophically, we believe a player has to be a good hitter to get to his power,” Stark said. “Our focus this off-season was for [Allie] to develop a a middle-of-the-field approach and trust the power would come behind a repeatable swing.”

As of this morning, Allie is tied for the South Atlantic League lead in home runs with eight — nearly three times his 2012 total in 63 fewer plate appearances. That’s been a welcomed development, though it’s not totally unexpected, considering Allie has generally been the strongest player on the field. But that strength is something he’s trying to corral. “My strength is both my best and worst asset,” Allie says. “Sometimes, I try to hit the balls out of the ballpark. But when I stick to my approach, strength is the best part of my game.”

Allie has posted lofty strikeout totals to date, but showed the ability to sit back on quality breaking stuff better than his experience should allow. With time and the accumulation of plate appearances, Allie’s strikeout percentage will improve. “We want him to focus on a pitch he can drive and be hard-headed and committed to that pitch,” Stark says. For Allie, a few extra strikeouts are an acceptable outcome as he learns the strike zone.

On defense, Allie has played first base and designated hitter to focus on offensive development. “A corner player has to hit, regardless of what position he plays,” Stark says. “Normally, we want our guys moving the other way on the defensive spectrum, but he’s missed a year’s worth of plate appearances.”

Around the bag, Allie shows surprising agility for having the frame of an NFL linebacker. He’s an excellent target at first base for infielders to throw to, but Allie’s plus arm is underutilized at the position. In instructs, the first baseman played third base for a week before moving across the diamond. I asked Stark about negating what was Allie’s best tool, and he seemed open to letting the bat guide defensive decisions in the future. “If the bat gets to where it needs to be, we can revisit in instructs,” Stark told me.

In the stands, scouts discussed Allie, surprised the Pirates decided to make the switch so quickly after awarding him a $2.25 million signing bonus. In general, organizations exhaust all avenues before making a drastic change. Allie’s response to the chatter is simple. “The longer you take off from hitting, the harder it is.”

As for Allie’s timetable, Stark added some perspective: “In baseball, we get caught up on missed development time.” He added, “If you step away from that, he would be a draft-eligible sophomore right now.” Allie definitely has repetitions to make up, but Stark says, “overall, he’s not far behind from where he should be.” added Stark.

When asked about Allie’s promotion schedule, Stark told me, “We always have ideal plans for guys, but when you do that too much, you stop focusing on players as human beings.” In general, the Pirates organization has opted to develop players slowly at the lower levels. “The big picture approach is to be more aggressive later than early,” Stark added. “We are more patient early so the player can build a foundation.”

For Allie, the opportunity to build a strong foundation has caused his confidence to blossom. For the first time as a professional, he’s experiencing success and is excited about the future. With right-handed power at a premium, look for Allie to push for placement in the Pirates top 10 prospects by year’s end. If he continues to improve at his present pace, Allie will also be mentioned as one of baseball’s better first base prospects.



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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


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Eno Sarris
Editor
Member
3 years 1 month ago

Nice piece, Mike.

TheVerbalOne
Guest
TheVerbalOne
3 years 1 month ago

This sounds like a familiar story. A big, burly pitcher who went on to be a power hitter… I’m searching for the name. Isn’t there a candy bar named after him? Darn it, I can’t remember.

Will
Guest
Will
3 years 1 month ago

The Micah Owings Bar?

It’s not very good.

NATS Fan
Guest
NATS Fan
3 years 1 month ago

to much fat and not enough sugar.

Zak
Guest
Zak
3 years 15 days ago

Actually, it’s not named after him, contrary to popular belief. It’s named after a President’s daughter.

Still, I concur with your point that it’s not ghastly to convert a power pitcher to a power hitter.

Rob
Guest
Rob
3 years 1 month ago

Drew Beuerlein is 24.

Razor
Guest
Razor
3 years 1 month ago

Great read.

Stories like Allie’s are one reason I’m opposed to the NL going to the DH. If all MLB went with the DH, then would Allie have had at-bats as a high school player? Little league?

Bucco
Guest
Bucco
3 years 1 month ago

Allie was a prospect as a hitter, 3B, I believe. His arm got him drafted as a pitcher.

Bucco
Guest
Bucco
3 years 1 month ago

Most high school pitchers that are drafted are also quality position players, just more highly regarded as pitchers.

Hamba
Member
Hamba
3 years 1 month ago

Definitely in LL… typically the best athletes are the best pitchers and hitters.

Spencer
Guest
Spencer
3 years 1 month ago

???

Yes of course he would have had at bats in high school and little league. He was a fantastic scholastic hitter

Tiers for Fiers
Member
Tiers for Fiers
3 years 1 month ago

Upvotes for ‘fantastic scholastic’

@dcholcomb
Guest
@dcholcomb
3 years 1 month ago

Great stuff, Mike. Allie could definitely be one of the better first base prospects soon with a current shortage there in the minors.

CabreraDeath
Member
CabreraDeath
3 years 1 month ago

Awesome stuff, Mike. And, Kyle Stark just continues to inspire confidence for me as a Bucs fan. I really like the ‘patient early, aggressive late’ type of motto. Is this a common theme around other teams? Pretty interesting.

Thanks, Mike.

deafdumbandblindkid
Guest
deafdumbandblindkid
3 years 1 month ago

are there really folks who think that there’s a LL player out there who’s a star type on the mound…who *isn’t* getting regular AB? sure, there’s a DH, but you don’t use him for your pitcher, you use him for the worst hitter on the team…

Brendan
Guest
Brendan
3 years 1 month ago

What’s most interesting to me is Allie’s willingness to really studying hitting rather than just simply swinging for the fences. I mention this as in the few interviews he gave after being drafted and while he was pitcher he seemed equally disinterested in working on the nuances of pitching, doing anything but rearing back and throwing it 100 mph. This might a result of maturity, having experienced failure and realizing this is necessary to succeed, or simply a greater interest in hitting than pitching, or some combination of all three.

Brian Cartwright
Guest
Brian Cartwright
3 years 1 month ago

One correction of what Stark said, Allie was a high school senior and was drafted in 2010 – 2013 would have been his Junior (not Sophomore) year had he not signed and subsequently played at UNC.

JRoth
Guest
JRoth
3 years 1 month ago

Stark failed to excellence that statement.

Steve Z
Guest
3 years 1 month ago

Stark, you maggot. Give me 50.

srpst23
Member
srpst23
3 years 1 month ago

From what I remember in the local Pittsburgh media is that Allie pretty much told the Pirates that he didn’t want to pitch anymore and if they didn’t move him to a position he was going to take his signing bonus and go home. It was reported here that the Pirates really wanted him to stick with pitching longer as they felt his control issues were correctable. So Stark’s retelling of how Allie ended up in the line-up is a little bit of revisionist history since it seems to be working out, or the local media was flat out wrong about how it went down (a distinct possibility, as Bucco’s reporting isn’t exactly great due to the 20+ years of losing). I hope the transition works out though, since the team really got lambasted for giving up on a 2nd round pitcher so early.

srpst23
Member
srpst23
3 years 1 month ago

Great read though regardless. Thanks

Ward
Guest
Ward
3 years 1 month ago

Nah. He didn’t really have a problem with it – the Pirates approached him, because he couldn’t find the plate.

Daniel Loften
Guest
Daniel Loften
3 years 1 month ago

I think the future is potentially very bright for the Pirates. With 2 first round picks this year in the draft, surprise breakouts from Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco, and with Cole/Taillon still making progress towards the majors the Pirates window might be longer than expected.

I am personally hoping for the team to draft a 3B prep school hitter, and another infield position player that can also swing the bat.

Dennis Gallagher
Guest
3 years 1 month ago

I am wondering if this slow approach to development is a function of the limited amount of time the Pirates are able to keep a talented player. If they only control Allie for 4 or 5 years after he reaches the majors it makes sense to be certain that he is as talented as he can be when he gets there and not be someone who is learning on the job at the MLB level.

Robert Zimmerman
Guest
Robert Zimmerman
3 years 1 month ago

Kyle Stark should not be allowed to speak publicly on behalf the Pirates.

Jim Davey
Guest
Jim Davey
3 years 1 month ago

Stetson’s first year as a pro pitcher brought him to Troy, NY pitching against our ValleyCats. His control issues got him taken out before completing 1st inning. Next night he showed up at the park with his blond locks clipped to a buzz cut. He does seem larger than life and we wish him all the best in baseball and life.

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