This Saturday I had the opportunity to catch a Bowie Baysox game at lovely Prince George Stadium. Unfortunately, there weren’t any high-profile prospects on display as the Altoona Curve ended up winning in a one-sided affair that ended in a score of 11-0. I did observe Curve first baseman Stetson Allie, a former second round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 23 year-old Allie is an Ohio product who starred at St. Edward High School. Due to his high bonus demands and a commitment to the University of North Carolina, he fell to the 52nd overall pick. Pittsburgh managed to convince him to forgo college by offering him a $2.25 million signing bonus. Prior to the 2011 season, Allie debuted on Baseball Prospectus’ Top 100 list at No. 39. Allie began his professional career as a pitcher with the State College Spikes, the Pirates Low-A affiliate. In 26 innings, he struck out 28 hitters. However, he also issued 29 walks and hit nine batters.
He began his 2012 season with the West Virginia Power in the Class-A Sally league. In two appearances, he issued eight walks while recording only two outs. The Pirates shut him down, and attempted to transition him to third base, where his cannon arm could still be a factor. After he made eight errors in nine games, they settled on first base and designated hitter. At the plate he produced a .213/.314/.340 batting line with only three home runs and a 28.9 percent strikeout rate.
Allie began the 2013 season in the Sally league, and had his way with opposing pitchers, slugging 17 home runs in 66 games to go along with an impressive .324/.414/.607 slash line. His results were less impressive with the High-A Bradenton Marauders, as he hit just four home runs in 66 games with 82 strikeouts. Strikeouts are still an issue for Allie, as he’s fanned 98 times in 85 games with Double-A Altoona, for a 28.2 percent rate. He has hit 14 home runs and owns a .238/.342/.426 line.
Offensively, Allie’s raw power is evident almost before he steps into the box. At 6’2 and 230 pounds, he looks the part of a slugger. He rocketed a couple of balls through the left side almost before the infielders could take a step. There’s a lot of loft in his swing, but the bat doesn’t stay in the hitting zone for very long. Whereas he previously used a more crouched stance with a leg lift trigger, he hit from a more upright position. He can take a free pass as evidenced by a 12.9 percent walk rate. Allie reached base five times on the night with three singles and two walks.
In the field, the remnants of his throwing issues are still present. He clearly has a strong arm, but twice he fired the ball past the shortstop when throwing the ball around the horn after recording an out. His concentration on defense left something to be desired, as he got a slow jump on a ball down the first base line and also missed a lob throw from the pitcher. Allie has plus-plus arm strength, but he’s far too wild to play anywhere but first base. Even that may be a stretch, and he’s committed 13 errors there already.
At the very least, a switch from pitching to hitting was necessary to preserve Allie’s mental health. His offensive game is far from refined, and he will have to depend on his raw power to advance. He’ll either have to make more contact or make more of the contact he makes to make his raw power more playable. At the risk of scouting a stat line, his strikeout rate is enough to make you believe the bat won’t be able to get him to The Show in a starting capacity.