Name: Kyle Allen
DOB: February 12, 1990
Status: 24th Round (2008) – The Pendleton School (FL)
Fastball: Allen's fastball sits 91-93 MPH with plenty of natural tailing, two-seam movement. It has two-plane movement that he can use to pound right-handers in, or left-handers away, and generate a high ground ball rate (2-to-1 in 2011). He often uses the pitch to get ahead in the count, but will fall back on the pitch and use it quite often if his secondary options are inconsistent. He pitches aggressively with the fastball, and is willing to challenge hitters. He has worked with a cutter in the 90-91 MPH range. While the pitch continues to improve, he still needs further refinement as he adds a strong counter-option to his lead fastball. Fastball command is imperative as a whole, because it establishes the rest of his game and helps him set an early tone. Without it, starts can get away from him fairly quickly.
Other Pitches: Allen's top secondary option is a low to mid-80s changeup with plus potential. He has shown comfort using it often, and like his two-seam fastball, has hard, tailing action in to right-handers. Also like his fastball, when his changeup is on, he can generate a high ground ball rate. What makes his changeup so effective is very good arm speed and tempo, which looks nearly identical to his fastball. Allen's third pitch, a slider, is thrown in the mid-80s. It continues to make progress, but has yet to develop to the point of giving him a true third option. Command and break remain inconsistent.
Pitching: Allen doesn't get too crafty with hitters. He likes to work quickly and go right after hitters, with the goal of retiring them early in the count. Working down in the zone, inducing contact with a smattering of strikeouts defines his identity so far. Despite the strengths to his game, command and trusting his own stuff is vital to his success. Allen's success can often hinder on how well he starts a game. Consistency eluded him last season, and he paid for it with a high walk rate (59 BB in 106 IP). High walk rates have plagued him for the last two seasons.
Projection: Allen's stock took a hit this year due to that inconsistency. He has navigated through some injuries that last two seasons, but his narrow strikeout-to-walk ratio and increasing opponent's batting average are generating doubts as to whether he can stay in the rotation long term. If he can find his rhythm, Allen has a very strong one-two punch with his fastball and changeup, which could work out of the bullpen given his tempo and fire on the mound. Barring a significant bounce-back season in 2012, Allen's projection will move even further to the bullpen. Though he will only be 22 when the year new season starts, Allen will need to turn things around with improving pitching talent around him.
ETA: 2014. Allen's inability to get to Double-A last season pushed his timeline back a bit. Allen, who has spent the last two years in St. Lucie, will have to prove he is ready for the rotation at Double-A. He could begin the year in the Binghamton bullpen, yet wherever Allen starts, he will need at least two more years on the farm before reaching New York sometime in 2014.