Minor league report: Allie cooling off in Bradenton after hot start
BRADENTON, Fla. — Stetson Allie's full-time return to the batter's box has hit a speed bump.
After tearing it up for the West Virginia Power to begin the 2013 season, batting .324 with 17 home runs and 61 RBI in 66 games, the Pirates promoted Allie to Bradenton of the Florida State League and his numbers have not been nearly as impressive. The 22-year-old is batting .227 with four homers and 19 RBI in 181 at-bats for the Single-A Marauders.
However, just looking at Allie is enough evidence to prove he is serious about reaching the major leagues as a power-hitting first baseman.
Allie was a 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-hander when the Pirates drafted him as a pitcher in the second round (No. 52 overall) in 2010. Allie now weighs 245 pounds. The additional weight is muscle he acquired working hard during the offseason.
“As a pitcher, you have to be a little bit more lean and flexible,” Allie said before Thursday night's 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Palm Beach Cardinals. Allie belted a solo homer to lead the rally. “But as a full-time hitter I've gotten in some good work in the weight room. Playing at first base, I need to have power. I trained really hard in the offseason to become that guy that I know I'm capable of becoming.”
Allie knows he must improve at the plate to keep climbing the minor league ladder that leads to where he wants to go.
“I haven't been as consistent as I need to be at this level,” he said. “But this is a game of adjustments. That's why I got called up. It's been fun. I'm enjoying it.”
Bradenton manager Frank Kemblas sees Allie's potential.
“I've been very impressed, considering it's his first year of hitting professionally,” Kemblas said. “He handles himself really well. There were some concerns when he first started, because he was really late on everything.
“He told me pitchers at this level mix things up much better. There are a lot less fastballs in fastball counts. That just takes time to get used to.
“He's having good at-bats. He's not an easy out. They pitch him tough. He's got power. He's not stiff when he swings. There's no problem there.”
Allie was an outstanding pitcher (134 strikeouts in 60 innings and 98 mph on the radar gun) and first baseman (.414 and 116 RBI) at St. Edwards High in Lakewood, Ohio, before he was drafted by the Pirates.
Allie's brief pro pitching career was a disaster. Pitching for the Single-A short-season State College Spikes in 2011, he walked 29 batters, hit nine more and threw seven wild pitches in compiling an 0-3 record and 7.76 ERA in 26 2⁄3 innings.
“I'm a lot more comfortable now than when I was as a pitcher,” Allie said. “I like playing every day. I was very immature and I didn't take the struggles very well when I pitched. I wanted to throw hard, but I didn't have the mindset of a pitcher. I was a little scatter-brained. I didn't soak in as much information as I should have.
“I'm more experienced as a hitter because I've done it my whole life. It's been a lot smoother transition because of that. I have to show consistency. I think the more and more I do it, the better I'll get. I just need a lot of at-bats.”