Name: Kolby Allard
Height/Weight: 6’0’’, 175
Kolby Allard was the top prep arm when the spring began for this class. He is a well-known arm who has been excellent in high school and the showcase circuit. I read more than a few reviews on him that compared him to the top pick from a year ago, Brady Aiken. This was especially after Allard started hitting 97 MPH in February.
Then right as he was cruising along looking like a top-five pick, he suffered a stress reaction in his back. If you are not familiar with a stress reaction, they are often the precursor to stress fractures. The back is a scary place for injuries and while everyone seems to agree this injury should not lead to more injuries, this will still hamper his stock. I would be willing to bet all of my savings that more than a few teams have knocked him out of the first round due to the injury concern.
Allard’s injury news broke around the same time as Aiken and Matuella were diagnosed with torn UCLs, which is interesting because if all three had stayed healthy and pitched well the top of this draft would look so much stronger. I think shortstop Brendan Rodgers would be fourth on my board if all of those pitchers had stayed healthy, which would line up with last year’s draft that had shortstop Nick Gordon at four. Basically this is the reason why the top of the draft is being dinged so much. Allard’s injury hasn’t received the press of Matuella’s or Aiken’s, and for good reason, as it is not as serious. Yet it has still had a big effect at the top of the draft.
Allard is a sub-six foot lefty who hits the mid 90’s but as mentioned before was hitting 97 right before injury. He has very clean and easy-to-repeat delivery along with good athleticism. His slider and fastball are his top pitches; both flash plus and his change has the ability to be more than a show me pitch. I think he is more of a 2/3 type than a future number one guy.
The negatives I have touched on already: the back injury, which derailed this season and cost him months of games, and his size, as he is generously listed as six foot in many places. I get it the odds are against a guy with his size. Yet his easy and clean delivery inspires more confidence that he can stay as a starter than a guy like Carson Fulmer does to some. Fulmer, though, has better stuff and no injury history, which is why he is rated higher.
There is really only one comparison that works for Allard and it’s Scott Kazmir. I was trying to find another lefty who is under six feet in the majors and Kazmir is it. There are a lot of 6’1’’ or 6’2” guys, but Kazmir is also generously listed as six feet most places. Kazmir was the 15th pick in the 2002 draft. In what is a large coincidence, my last mock draft had Allard going 15 to the Brewers. The arsenal is different for these two arms as Kazmir is fastball/change-up pitcher and, as noted before, Allard is more fastball/slider. It’s not an ideal comparison but the size issue made it more difficult to find a good match for Allard. In truth, the best comparison might be Royals’ 2014 top pick Brandon Finnegan, although he has yet to prove himself in the majors for an extended period.
Allard has as much range as any pitcher in this class. He has been rumored to go as high as the Twins at six yet because of his size and the injury there is a chance he could slid into the late teens or early 20’s. We saw it happened with a highly thought of and undersized prep arm last year, Grant Holmes.
Allard will be just on the outside of my personal top ten. I see a guy with the potential for two-plus pitches. I don’t see anything I would grade 65 and I think the change will just be an average third pitch. Allard, if healthy, seems like a safe, fast-moving prep arm because of his clean, easy delivery. In the end, teams are always looking for left-handed pitchers. Allard should not have to wait all that long to hear his name called on draft day. I personally would be surprised to see him not go in the first round.