Some pitchers can survive without having the classic "great stuff" that others have and need to succeed. It's looking like Kyle Allen is one of those pitchers. The scouts all love him, though all admit that they've seen better stuff from other pitchers. Something must have clicked though because somehow, Allen was drafted in the 16th round out of Lewis and Clark State College.
Allen has a fighter's personality and is all business on the mound. He has learned to use what he has in his arsenal and has discovered that he can get more mileage out of making himself into a better command pitcher than trying to get more velocity. One of the keys to Allen's success has been location. He knows how to keep his curve ball down in the zone and get hitters to swing over it.
While Allen has taken his career from Orange Coast Community College, to the Alaska Summer League, to Lewis and Clark and now, to the Phillies, he has always maintained a good work ethic and will battle to the end against each and every hitter. At L&C, he could routinely give six innings as a starter, but his future seems to be in the bullpen and that's where he found himself when be reported to the Batavia MuckDogs this past summer.
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Acquired: Drafted out of Lewis and Clark College (Oregon) in the 16th round of the 2004 Draft.
Repertoire: Allen relies on a fastball and curve to get hitters out. He doesn't blow away a lot of hitters with his fastball, but his velocity is acceptable and he has good movement to keep hitters off stride. His curve ball is generally always down in the zone, so he doesn't give up many homeruns. At Orange Coast, he mixed his pitches well enough and relied on a strong curve to strike out 18 hitters in one game. He also struck out 10 in seven innings in one game for L&C this past season and fanned 59 hitters in 68 2/3 innings this past season.
Pitching: Scouts have commented on his loose arm and how effortlessly he seems to deliver the ball. He also fields his position well and isn't afraid to dive for balls that he thinks he can reach. Allen isn't a newcomer to scouts. He was drafted by the Indians in the 42nd round of the 2001 Draft and again by Colorado in the 32nd round of the 2003 Draft. Both times, he returned to school and could have pitched another season at Lewis and Clark, but decided to take the Phillies offer and start his professional career.
Projection: In college, Allen worked a lot as a starter. The Phillies see a left-handed situational pitcher or potential set-up man in Allen and immediately moved him into the bullpen when he reported to Batavia. It's likely that they'll keep him in the 'pen and hope he settles into the role of a reliever. It's very possible that Allen won't have to wait for the short-season New York-Penn League to start this season. He was impressive enough that he should be able to handle the rigors of the South Atlantic League and will open the year at Lakewood.
ETA: You wouldn't figure that a 16th round pick out of an NAIA school would move too quickly, but Allen might be an exception. He showed good poise on the mound at Batavia and won't necessarily rocket to the majors, but should move along at a steady pace. Scouts believe that he could look for at least some major league consideration in 2008 and should be pushing for a job by late in that season or certainly by the spring of 2009.
Comparison: It seems to be a common theme among Phillies prospects, but this guy has Rheal Cormier written all over him.