Kyle Allen is relatively unknown in prospect circles, but he won’t be for long. A 24th round pick in the 2008 draft who dropped significantly due to a strong commitment to North Carolina State as a two-way player, Allen’s true grade was that of a 2nd or 3rd round pick. On pure stuff alone, Allen ranks with the best pitchers I’ve seen come through the South Atlantic League this season. However, his control has been an issue due to inexperience and his being a thrower, not a pitcher. His 2.31 GO/AO is excellent, and 7.53 K/9 is nothing to sneeze at. However a poor defense aided 81 hits allowed in 86 innings pitched with 3.66 BB/9 is rather pedestrian. With a chip on his shoulder and a great work ethic, Allen has the potential for three plus pitches should he continue developing both physically and mentally.
Physique and Athleticism: In starts versus Kannapolis (White Sox) and Hickory (Rangers), Allen was the best athlete on the field, bar none. This is a player who ran a 6.6, 60-yard dash and threw 98 MPH from the outfield prior to being drafted. At 6’3″, 195 lbs, his physique is one which can add another 20-25 lbs. comfortably over the next 2-3 years, which should add velocity and durability. He also has fluid mechanics and easy arm action at 90 MPH which also bodes well for a future spike in velocity. My only mechanical concern is Allen’s tendency to short arm the ball a touch which should iron itself out as he progresses as a pitcher. As a side note, his pick off move is the best I’ve seen this year, although he should mix things up a little and not use it every time.
Mound Presence: A work in progress, Allen is a player who can show supreme confidence one inning, and be tentative the next. He works quickly whether he’s throwing strikes or balls which sometimes does not work to his advantage. When he’s going well, he attacks hitters with a three pitch mix I would describe as hard, harder, and hardest. When he struggles, he’s prone to lapses of concentration which can lead to 4-pitch walks or an untimely hit-by-pitch. He has also been a bit prone to the home run ball. With maturity and innings, his consistency should improve leaps and bounds, but control is currently his Achilles heel.
Fastball: Consistently 90-93 MPH, it’s one of the better fastballs I’ve seen this season. With natural boring action in on the hands of right-handed hitters, the pitch flattens out a bit more with each additional tick on the radar gun. At this point, he rears back on every pitch trying to light up the gun, but he may have more success working around 90 with maximum movement and the ability to ramp it up when needed. If he develops physically as the Mets think he will, his combination of velocity and movement could move his fastball into elite status. Allen also needs to learn to trust his movement as the pitch often gets a little too much of the plate.
Slider: At 83-86 MPH, the pitch already has major league velocity. However, movement is inconsistent at this point as it flashes solid-average down in the zone, but loses its vertical movement when left up. With a slight adjustment in Allen’s initial pitch target and continued work on finishing the pitch every time, it could truly become a weapon.
Changeup: With plus arm action already and boring movement similar to his fastball, it is currently his second-best offering. At 85 MPH, he throws it a bit hard as the 5-8 MPH difference compared to his fastball is faster than the 8-10 MPH norm. With both off speed pitches having near identical velocity and plane, their movement has led to 60+% ground ball percentage, but fewer strikeouts than a power repertoire should produce. A third speed and a pitch with more downward movement would do Allen wonders.
Kyle Allen is limited only by how fast he can pick up the nuances of pitching. Prone to the occasional mental lapse due to lack of experience, he’s still a thrower who gets by on athletic ability and raw stuff. While his pitches dart and dive, he has yet to adjust his location for movement and his fastball and change up have a tendency to catch too much of the plate. On the opposite end of the spectrum, his slider location down and out to right-handed hitters starts on the outside black and often becomes little more than a chase pitch when starting the pitch middle out would prove much more tempting to opposing hitters.
He should open 2010 as one of the Mets’ top ten prospects and could be on the doorstep of the top 100 by mid-2011. Of the Savannah Sand Gnats’ “big three,” he has the most upside potential which is tied directly to his ability to limit free passes. From reading about Hector Rondon of the Indians, Allen’s repertoire seems eerily similar, although Rondon started with more control. I could see Allen’s career arc following a similar path: becoming a highly touted prospect seemingly out of nowhere before settling in as a solid number two or three starter should a true wipeout offering develop from his power arsenal.
Read more about Mets prospects, along with other South Atlantic League players at scoutingthesally.com.