Monday, June 4, 2012

Pirates To Make Stetson Allie A Position Player

Word from both Dejan Kovacevic and Rob Biertempfel late in the night say that the Pirates are ending the Stetson Allie pitching expedition and moving him to a hitter and a position player. Allie was the second round pick of the Pirates in the 2010 draft when they gave him a $2.2M bonus in the midst of them paying over slot for players which partially promted Major League Baseball to change the draft rules.

This was a pretty big shock to those of us that were still up around midnight to hear the breaking news and to be honest I had no idea how to process this information. On one hand Allie has really struggled as a pitcher in his time as a Pirate but when you put it into context you can understand the struggle. Allie wasn't even a pitcher until his senior year of high school and while he had a huge arm which resulted in a fastball that consistently ran in the mid 90's and touched 100 on several occasions. Allie also possessed a plus slider but could never really seem to get away from his control problems.

In his brief pitching career over two seasons Allie threw in 26.2 innings over two seasons in low-A and A ball and had a 7.76 ERA. While his power arm produced 29 strikeouts in those innings he also walked 37 hitters and hit nine others. This season he started in West Virginia and talked eight batters and hit one other in two appearances which spanned over only 0.2 inning.

Allie moving to a hitter isn't a disaster because he was pretty well regarded as a hitter coming out of high school and according to Baseball America's Kevin Goldstein stated that Allie would have been a third to fifth round talent as a hitter:

Obviously Allie was more highly regarded as a pitcher and with such limited experience as a pitcher it makes it kind of a head scratcher that the Pirates would give up on him so early in his pitching career. Obviously they see him on a daily basis and a lot of us haven't seen him throw much but how bad would things had to be for them to make this switch after only 26.2 innings? I guess if this were me I would have given him at least till the end of the season to try and figure out the pitching thing but hopefully he is still young enough to pick up on hitting and make a difference in a system that lacks hitting. Nobody really knows what he is as a hitter but GoldStein stated that he had huge power but struck out a lot.

A lot of people immediately start talking about a move that the Pirates made with 2001 first round pick John Van Benschoten when they made him a pitcher after he absolutely mashed the baseball at Kent State. I will say that this is a comparison that really holds no water in my book because they are completely different situations. Van Benschoten was widely regarded as a much better hitting prospect while the Pirates saw him as a pitcher. In this situation Allie was considered a better pitching prospect than he was a hitting prospect and the Pirates gave him the chance to be a pitcher but came to the conclusion that he couldn't make it work. While I know a lot of people are going to bring that up I really don't think you can make that comparison.

All told this is really a tough thing to judge. Only time will tell if this was the right move but with the limited pitching that Allie has done in his life I think I would have liked to see him get a little more of a chance. The control was a major problem but the Pirates do a pretty good job at working with pitchers, especially in the lower levels, of getting their control in check before they do anything else. Hopefully Allie can work on his hitting and make a difference but this is something that will be interesting to follow as the season goes on and most of next year.

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