As the Dodgers have invited 21 non-roster players to the big league side of spring camp this year, most of them are prospects who have plenty of years ahead of them in terms of maturing and development.
Yet, there is still a handful of veteran minor leaguers for which time is seemingly beginning to draw thin.
Today, we take a quick glance at Stetson Allie—another long-haired flamethrower who has as good a chance as any pitcher in the system to have a cup of coffee with the big league squad this year.
Back in 2011, I had the chance to see Allie pitch twice for Low-A State College in the New York-Penn League. As a matter of fact, he actually started both games I saw him throw. I remember being impressed by his heater, but nothing else really registered in my mind that set him apart from many of the other starting pitchers his age.
Originally, Allie was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Pirates straight out of high school, and he netted a half-decent signing bonus of more than $2 million dollars in the process. At the time, scouts saw him as going either way between a position player and a pitcher, but Pittsburgh decided to groom him as a starting pitcher, if only for the extremely high ceiling of his right arm.
However, due to his disappointment on the mound, the Pirates floated Allie over to first base during the 2012 season, and he eventually became a full-time position player during his 2013 campaign. Between Low and High-A ball that year, he hit .277/.378/.483 with 34 doubles, 21 home runs and 86 RBI over 132 games. He was a mid-season All-Star for the South Atlantic League. MILB.com named him as an organizational All-Star at the conclusion of the season.
At the beginning of 2015, he moved to the outfield full-time as he made the jump to Double-A ball, but despite a ton of apparent talent, his inconsistencies at the plate got the better of him. After hitting .247/.324/.444 with 16 long balls in 111 games during the 2016 season, Allie elected to file for minor league free agency at the end of the year.
Perhaps based on his level of potential, the Dodgers took a flier on the Orlando native, signing him to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. He didn’t do anything special that year, as he hit .216/.291/.343 in 88 AB. However, like pages out of the Ike Davis and Brett Eibner books, the Dodgers thought maybe that he’d be more effective as a pitcher. In mid-June, they shipped him to the AZL Dodgers, and Allie once again began an ascent.
Across three levels of the Los Angeles farm last season, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound right-hander made 46 appearances and tallied 57 punchouts over an even 42 innings of work. Rather than noticing his numbers, what coaches and fans noted the most was his ridiculously high fastball velocity.
“I’ve got an elite fastball,” Allie told Jacob Unruh of The Oklahoman last August. “I throw the (expletive) out of it.”
Allie has been able to hit triple-digits since his high school days, but his high expectations on the bump apparently got the better of him. Nevertheless, a new opportunity with a new club and a growing level of maturity may lead the righty to finding success in the bigs.
“When I was with the Pirates, I put a lot of pressure on myself. That was just immaturity,” Allie added. “I thought I had to do everything perfect because I was a high round and this and that. Here, it’s been a breath of fresh air.”
The most important thing right now is that Allie’s back in big league camp. But, being that the Dodgers used a whopping 29 relief pitchers at the big league level during the 2018 regular season, there may be even more prosperity in store for him this season.