Allen Transitioning into Rotation

James Allen was one of the top closers in the Big 12 while at Kansas St. He came to the Reds from a 7th round selection last year and dominated Pioneer hitters as a reliever at Billings. Recently he was moved into the Dayton rotation and has allowed one run in 14 innings over his last two starts. He's now sitting on a 7-3 record with a mid-3 ERA for the Dragons.

Dayton took a three run lead in the ninth and held on for a 3-2 win at Great Lakes. The win prevented the Cincinnati organization from getting swept last night. Ryan Wright had two of the five Dragon hits to raise his average to .293. Yorman Rodriguez tripled and scored a run. On the mound James Allen had a near-perfect outing to get the win, allowing only one hit in seven shutout innings. Carlos Contreras allowed a two-run homer but still qualified for the save.

The two teams will play the rubber match of a three-game set on Friday. 2011 first-rounder Robert Stephenson was promoted from Billings and is expected to make his debut with Dayton. Last night was the fifth start of Allen's professional career and his last two outings would make one think he belonged in the rotation all along. In his previous appearance he got no decision when he allowed one run in seven innings against Clinton. He's now sitting on a 7-3 record with a mid-three ERA in 78+ innings pitched.

Allen came into the Reds organization from a seventh round selection in the 2011 draft out of Kansas St. University where he was a closer. Last year he made that selection look like a good one with a miniscule 1.26 ERA and sub-one WHIP in 22 games at Billings. His strikeout and walk ratios per nine innings were 12.2 K/1.6 BB, or almost 8/1. As expected both of those rates went the wrong way when he advanced to the higher level this season. His recent performances have dropped his WHIP to 1.156.

Allen now 22 years old, throws right-handed and is listed at 6'1/197#. Brad Boxberger's departure left him the second highest rated bullpen prospect in the Cincinnati system according to Baseball America's preseason publication. He has a mid-90's fastball that had made him a candidate to move up rapidly as a reliever, but his move to the rotation looks like a good one. He was limited to five innings in his first two starts and has allowed more than three runs once. He's not as tall as some of the other starting pitchers in the Reds pipeline, but his ground out/air out ratio of 1.25 is attractive in an organization where the ultimate prize is to play in Great American Ball Park.

He dominated Pioneer League hitters as a reliever last year and he's figuring out things in the Midwest League. The way he's pitched as a starter will likely keep him out of the pen and hold him back at low-A so he can get more experience. The Reds were successful at converting former Rice University closer Tony Cingrani into one of the top rotation prospects in their system and perhaps Allen will make a similar move. He is showing that he knows how to get batters out and keep the ball in the park (zero HR's allowed at Billings/0.57 per 9 inn. at Dayton) and that will advance him eventually.

Other News from the Farm:

Louisville lost a home game against Buffalo by the score of 10-7. Neftali Soto had two hits/two RBI for the Bats and Cody Puckett had a three-run homer. Todd Redmond struck out eight in 5+ innings, but he also allowed five runs on nine hits for the loss.

Pensacola gave up the game-winner in the seventh inning in a 3-2 loss to visiting Huntsville. Donald Lutz had his best day as a Wahoo with three hits and a homer. Daniel Corcino threw a quality start allowing two runs on five hits in six innings with five strikeouts. Wilken De La Rosa was charged with an unearned run for the loss.

Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:

Hamilton led off the first inning with a walk and advanced to second on a bunt. He singled in the fifth but never had an open base in front of him. He's still at 113 steals after 96 games. Moving up a level has slowed down his SB rate. He's swiped nine bases and gotten caught four times in 14 games at Pensacola.

Bakersfield allowed seven in the final two innings in a 7-1 home loss to San Jose. Kurtis Muller and Devin Lohman had two hits each for the Blaze. Daniel Renken tossed seven shutout innings and allowed only four hits without a walk, but got no decision. Chris Joyce was roughed up for six runs (three earned) and took the loss.

Billings had the day off and will return home to resume their season Friday against Helena. The AZL Reds fell behind early in a 7-1 home loss to the AZL Athletics. Adam Matthews had two hits for the Reds. 2012 first-round selection Nick Travieso started the game and allowed one run on one hit in two innings for his first professional loss.

The DSL Reds allowed the game winner in the eleventh inning in a 2-1 loss at the DSL Diamondbacks. Jose Fernandez had two hits and scored the Reds' only run. Franderlin Romero had an outstanding start by throwing six shutout innings while allowing only one hit, one walk, and striking out eight. His ERA is now 1.26 in 44+ innings. Carlos Encarnacion allowed the game-winner for the loss.

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