STETSON ALLIE
FIRST BASEMAN
   Born: March 13, 1991
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 225
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 2nd Round, 52nd Overall, 2010
How Acquired: Draft
High School: St. Edwards HS (Ohio)
Agent: Hendricks Brothers

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates aimed high by drafting Allie with their second pick. Baseball America rated him the eighth best prospect in the draft, but he fell surprisingly far due to his bonus demands, which didn’t seem to be all that extreme. He was known primarily for velocity; in high school his fastball sat in the mid-90s and routinely came in faster.  In his last outing before the draft, he reached triple digits a half dozen times. He also threw a hard slider that got into the low-90s. With stuff like that, he was nearly unhittable in high school, which is why he had only a rudimentary changeup.

Allie presented substantial risks when he was drafted.  He was a good prospect as a power-hitting thirdbaseman and pitched only a little before his senior year, so he had unusually limited experience.  A lot of his focus was simply on lighting up the radar guns and he had little control in the early part of his senior season.  His draft status picked up when he started showing better command.  The Pirates’ selection of Allie inevitably drew speculation that he was just a fallback in case they failed to sign first-round pick Jameson Taillon. The Pirates, however, made it clear from the start that they intended to sign both and, in the end, they did. As expected, it took until the last day of the signing period, with Allie accepting a $2.25M bonus to pass up a scholarship to North Carolina.

2011
A-:  0-2-0, 6.58 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, 26 IP, 10.0 BB/9, 9.8 K/9 

The Pirates sent Allie to State College to start the season.  In retrospect, it may have been an overly ambitious assignment.  His first few starts went alright, but the control problems surfaced and he had some outings where he just couldn’t get anything over.  After seven starts the Pirates had him pitch in relief.  He ended up walking 29 in 26 innings, and added nine hit batsmen and seven wild pitches.  On the positive side, he fanned a lot and opponents hit only .208 against him.  It may not mean anything given the small sample size, but left-handed batters hit .341 while right-handed batters hit .096.  He also was much less likely to walk righties.  His fastball sat in the 93-95 range, which is realistic given the need to gain better command.

2012
A:  0-1-0, 54.00 ERA, 13.50 WHIP, 0.2 IP, 108.00 BB/9, 13.5 K/9

R:  213/314/340, 150 AB, 6 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 21 BB, 50 K, 2-2 SB

Allie was throwing much better in spring training, although his control still was a problem.  The Pirates sent him to West Virginia to open the season and it was a disaster.  In two outings he managed to retire only two batters while walking eight, hitting one and throwing three wild pitches.  The Pirates sent him back to extended spring training and things did not improve.  The team eventually had him start playing two ways in exhibitions, which led to a mutual decision to move him off the mound, a move that the team announced on the eve of the 2012 draft.

This was obviously not good news.  Allie was at least a mid-1st-round talent as a pitcher.  As a hitter, Baseball Prospectus has characterized Allie as a 3rd to 5th round talent.  His hitting skills mirror his pitching:  he has prodigious power, but swings and misses a lot.  The Pirates sent him to the GCL, where he initially played third.  After he committed eight errors on just 30 chances, the team moved him to first, although he also served as DH a lot.  Despite his lack of experience, he’s solid defensively at first.  At the plate, Allie showed good power and a willingness to take a walk, but he struck out in a third of his ABs.  When the GCL Pirates reached the playoffs, which they eventually won, Allie didn’t play.  The team instead used Eric Wood at third and Edwin Espinal at first.

2013
A:  324/414/607, 244 AB, 16 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 36 BB, 79 K, 6-7 SB
A+:  229/342/356, 236 AB, 18 2B, 4 HR, 41 BB, 82 K, 2-5 SB

Allie became a big story in the first half of the season.  The Pirates, a little surprisingly, sent him to West Virginia and he put up huge numbers there.  The strikeouts, though, were a warning sign.  The Pirates promoted him to Bradenton at mid-season and he mostly struggled at that level.  He continued to strike out in a third of his ABs, but didn’t hit with anywhere near the same authority.  A lot of his HRs turned into doubles.  After hitting RHPs at least as well as LHPs at West Virginia, he posted only a .647 OPS against them at Bradenton, compared to .776 against LHPs.

The Pirates appear to have lost their gamble with Allie, but doesn’t mean it was a bad gamble, as some of the more unthinking elements of the blogosphere treated it.  He was universally regarded as an extremely risky prospect, so the very strong possibility that he wouldn’t work out as a pitcher was always present.  The move to hitter is an understandable attempt by the team to retrieve something from their investment, although they’re vulnerable to the criticism that they should have tried longer with Allie on the mound.  It’s impossible to know for sure, though, what exactly transpired in extended spring training leading up to the decision, although it’s clear at this stage that Allie wasn’t fully committed to being a pitcher, and especially not a starting pitcher.  As a hitter, he obviously has a high upside due to his tremendous raw power.  His problem isn’t chasing too many pitches, as shown by his high walk rates.  He just has some large holes in his swing that more experienced pitchers are able to exploit.

Allie was eligible for the Rule 5 draft, due to the fact that he was already 19 when the Pirates drafted him.  Despite his prodigious power potential, they chose not to protect him from the draft and he was not selected.  He seems like a candidate to return to Bradenton in 2014, but early in spring training the Pirates decided to send him to Altoona.  This seemed to be based in part on a correction in his swing, specifically eliminating a leg kick that he added while he was in the FSL, and that may have contributed to his problems there.  There are some encouraging aspects to Allie’s hitting, such as his understanding that he doesn’t have to pull the ball to hit it out, which will let him wait longer before swinging.  He was sidelined during spring training with an oblique injury, but he wasn’t expected to miss more than a few days at the start of Altoona’s season.  Just as he was when he was a pitcher, he’s a very high-risk, high-reward prospect.

STATS
Baseball Reference — Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2014: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $2,250,000
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2013
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
June 8, 2010: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round, 52nd overall pick; signed on August 16.