Now with his third organization in eight years as a professional, Brandon Allen hopes Oakland is the club he will finally break through with and become a major-league regular.
Originally a fourth-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2004, Allen was first dealt from Chicago to Arizona during the July trading deadline in exchange for pitcher Tony Pena. This year, he was traded from Arizona to the A's along with pitcher Jordan Norberto for reliever Brad Ziegler. Although he still can't wrap his arms around the most recent trade deadline deal, Allen is approaching it as a new opportunity.
"It's still shocking, but hopefully it's for the better," said Allen, who was assigned to Oakland's Triple-A squad in Sacramento.
"When I received the news, it was shock and awe. It's not the first time I've been traded, though. It was a situation where Oakland needed something and Arizona needed something, so I was one of the guys to go.
"I would think there'd be more of an opportunity here. I had 20 games in the big leagues last year and 11 this year, so I've had opportunities but not enough time. Hopefully I get a chance to show that I can play up there and stay up there. The hardest part is sticking once you get there."
For now, Allen will concentrate on finishing out the Pacific Coast League slate with the River Cats. He posted a .306/.427/.579 line with 18 homers and 66 RBIs in 83 games for rival Reno earlier this year, but has yet to find the same groove with his new club where he has nine hits in 35 at-bats (including two homers).
The good news is Sacramento's eight-game road trip to the Midwest ended Wednesday in Iowa, so he'll finally get the chance to settle in his new city.
"Time is really dragging, actually," Allen said. "When I first got here, the next day we had a 4 a.m. wake-up and flight to Omaha. It's just travel and my body is recuperating. But I'm having fun playing every day and with a good group of guys."
After playing first base almost exclusively in Reno, Allen will need to be more versatile for Sacramento which has top prospect Chris Carter firmly entrenched at first. A minor injury to outfielder Jai Miller last week temporarily opened up a spot in the outfield, but it's unclear where Allen will settle in for the next few weeks.
"We just had an injury, so they threw me out in left," Allen said. "I'm comfortable out there. Wherever they want me to play I'll play."
Allen realizes his ticket to another big-league opportunity may be improving his strikeout-ratio, as he whiffed 90 times in 304 at-bats for the Aces. He has struck out 33 times in 84 big-league at-bats over the past two seasons.
"There's always room to improve," he said.
"I felt like I improved my plate discipline. I had a lot of walks last year and am at a good pace this year. I'd like to get back and find that groove where I can control the zone a little bit better."
He'd like to believe he'll be one of the A's September call-ups, given his recent big-league experience. But Allen hasn't had much communication with the Oakland organization since the trade.
"I don't really have an idea yet," he said.
"I'm still getting to learn guys and won't really meet many of the front-office guys until next spring or in September if I'm fortunate enough to get called up. I just got called the first day and that was it. I came to Sacramento and have been here. Hopefully I'll hear from them soon. Right now I'm just going out and playing."
Allen left one playoff contender in Reno and joined another in Sacramento. He says the chemistry on both teams have made them successful in their respective divisions.
"It's the same atmosphere as in Reno," he said.
"We were in the playoff hunt and winning. It's the same competitive, winning clubhouse. Everybody's in high spirits and getting along with each other. That's what it takes to win and that's what I feel like is here. I feel like I'm fitting in well with the group."