FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Logan Allen will be joining Fernando Tatis, Jr.. and Jorge Ona as the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ contingent to the Midwest League All-Star Game on June 20, but afterwards will probably be the only one headed west to High-A Lake Elsinore.
Despite this being his third professional season, Allen just turned 20 last month but has always exhibited unusual maturity for a player his age. If you have any doubts, just talk to him about pitching for a few minutes which will be the equivalent of a Master’s Degree level seminar.
The 6-foot-3, 200 pound left-hander was part of the big Padres’ trade for Craig Kimbrel in the winter of 2015 from the Boston Red Sox. Boston was able to buy him out of his commitment to the University of South Carolina in the draft that year when they picked him in the eighth round with over-slot money.
Last season he was rolling along with the TinCaps before elbow inflammation caused him to miss nearly two months. This year he has been one of the best pitchers in the Midwest League with a 1.75 ERA in 51.1 innings to go along with a 64:21 strikeout to base-on-balls ratio.
We caught up with Logan before a recent game and tried to remember he’s only 20.
He didn’t do a very good of convincing us of that.
MadFriars: Can you go into a little bit of detail what injury you had last year and how you recovered?
Logan Allen: In high school I didn’t throw as much so I wasn’t used to the demands of the pro game where you are throwing everyday one way or another. I wasn’t doing a lot of the things that you need to do in taking care of my arm.
I went through one start and it was bothering me a little bit, nothing serious, just some inflammation around the elbow. It wasn’t anything with the tendon, it was just my nerve and bicep. I had an MRI and everything was clean, but I had a lot of inflammation, which is also normal.
I had to sit down and get with a program to make sure that I stayed healthy when I came back. I took off more time than I needed. They wanted everything to completely heal and then start building me back up.
When you say a healthy throwing program, what is that?
Logan Allen: It is more like bands, seeing the trainer and having them get out any knots. I was always the type that I want to pitch whenever and I’m good. That had to change.
You have been pitching well this year and there been any recurrence of the inflammation?
Logan Allen: No, everything has been great. The program is working really well,
What do you throw?
Logan Allen: I have a four-seam fastball, slower 12-6 curve, slider and a “vulcan” changeup; which is like a split change. It has good fade and sinks quite a bit. I can really make it do quite a few things and its been my best pitch this season.
Most pitchers I know that throw a four-seamer also throw a two-seamer for the movement. Have you worked on that much?
Logan Allen: Not really because I love attacking the inside part of the zone and I’ve done a pretty good job of that this year. I have thrown a two-seamer in the past, but the four-seamer depending on how I hold it can kind of get similar movement to a two-seamer.
If I hold my four-seamer one way if I’m throwing to the outside part of the plate, where it moves like a two-seamer with depth. If i flip the ball around, it moves more like a dart.
With a lot of guys, especially lefties, depending on the arm angle that they release the ball it can cause the ball to move or get “heavy sink”.
Logan Allen: It can. With Jerry Keel everything he throws is going to sink.
A lot of lefties a big part of your game is the ability to throw inside to right-handed hitters and not miss over the plate. Have you always felt comfortable doing that?
Logan Allen: In high school I was lucky enough to throw harder than the average high school pitcher. I knew that if I was anywhere close to the inside part of the plate they were not going to hit it, unless they were really expecting it.
At this level, so many guys aren’t expecting you to come in. If you can throw it, it will set you up for so many things.
A low and away fastball is the most important pitch. You have to be able to get that first strike on an arm-side pitch.
In your past few starts you are starting to go deeper into games. Has that been one of your goals this season?
Logan Allen: Obviously, I have to get better. Last year I was around 75 pitches in three to four innings sometimes. As much as they wanted to extend me more, I wasn’t giving myself a chance to do the job.
Last year I could have gone four innings, punched out a bunch of guys and given up no runs; but that is not my full job. I need to do that and go at least six innings or more to give my team a chance to win.
This year I have been able to be more efficient, but I am still walking too many guys. For the most part I’ve gotten out of it with ground balls, but I can improve upon that.
Is a bigger statistic to you how many three-pitch outs you get as opposed to strikeouts? That way you can go deeper into games?
Logan Allen: I love three pitch outs, but for me the biggest statistic is first pitch strikes. When I get a first pitch strike on guys the likelihood of them doing anything against me is much lower.
If I can throw that first pitch strike its going to cut down on my walks and allow me to do more of what I want.
You have to get ahead and throwing only fastballs whenever I want is not going to work anymore.
What has been your biggest improvement that you have seen in yourself this year?
Logan Allen: Last year my changeup was terrible. I didn’t throw it enough or work on it enough either. This year its the complete opposite.
Before you beat yourself up too much every pitcher struggles to throw it consistently; its difficult grip and arm speed.
Logan Allen: Absolutely. I was never comfortable with the circle change and once I found the vulcan grip, it really worked. Mainly because its just arm speed, which works for me.
The other thing is tempo. In the past my tempo has been a little too quick and I just started to slow down some more. It helps me relax more and pace myself better.
What is your velocity range?
Logan Allen: Around 91 to 94, but I got up to 96 in Arizona. On an 0-2 pitch when I want to elevate, I’ll let it go some but 88 with movement for a strike is better than 95 straight down the middle.
I know you guys don’t hit down here, but you are listed as a right-handed hitter. How did that come about?
Logan Allen: I honestly don’t know. When I was younger my grandfather thought lefties were kind of weird. I write right-handed, kick right-footed, golf righty and the only thing I do lefty is throw.
I can’t hit lefty or really do anything but throw.