In Part Two of Inside Pitch's minor league Spring Traing Preview, we take a look at the lower level…
Spring Q&A With Kyle Allen
Kyle Allen: Instructs in the Dominican was a really good experience. There were a lot of new things to work on down there, particular things in a new environment, and it was a good real good experience to be one of the guys going there then those guys coming up here. All the guys always talk about how it's different in the Dominican and that was really interesting to see.
I mostly focused on new grips of my slider, to give me a comfortable grip with my slider which I think helped a lot. We also worked on improving my fastball command down in the zone because that's something I want to have going this year. Now I think my slider is going to be a lot better than it was last year.
Inside Pitch: Do you think your fastball command got away from you a bit last year?
Allen: Sometimes I would try to boost it up a bit, but then I'd come back in the strike zone and leave the ball up a little bit. That's something I know I can't do too much this year. I worked on staying down in the zone. I know that my body will throw the fastball hard enough without me having to overthrow.
I'm one of those guys that tries to get every batter out as quick as possible. I don't like to mess around with hitters, so sometimes I'd try to boost up my fastball. But when I try to boost my fastball up I'd get hit because I couldn't hit my spots correctly. Then at the end of the season I just started locating and I found out I was hitting the same speeds (91-93 MPH), and hitting my spots and keeping the ball low without having to overthrow.
Inside Pitch: You got the invite to STEP camp. What was that experience like for you?
Allen: It was a great opportunity. I got in early and got my work done. We got to talk to some big leaguers about what's it like up there and what we've got to do to get there and what we should expect. They talked about good work habits like getting there early and working on things. In STEP camp, I worked more on things I was doing at Instructs.
Inside Pitch: Getting to talk with the big leaguers is a great opportunity for you guys. Was there anyone big leaguer that stood out? Or a collective message that stood out to you?
Allen: I really liked the comment David Wright made. He said that he gets himself away from other people and by example shows that he is working harder than everyone else. He said he does that to show that if he's working that hard, than everyone should be working that hard. He also said he works out on some baseball activity every single day, even Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even if it's just one little thing he's getting out there. I really liked that.
Inside Pitch: In STEP camp, you get the opportunity to work more closely with the coaching staff. Was there anything they focused on with you?
Allen: It was pretty much the same stuff I worked on at Instructs. We worked more on my slider and my slider grip. They wanted to see how that was coming along. I think it's coming along real well. They wanted to make sure that I was staying strong during the offseason and that my arm was healthy.
Inside Pitch: In the last couple weeks of spring training, you had a chance to get a lot more live action and more competitive action facing outside competition. Are you pleased with the way you threw the ball? Do you feel your stuff coming around?
Allen: I don't worry too much about numbers or anything at this point. To me, spring training is important for getting my arm stronger, getting my pitch count up, and making sure that I'm as ready as I can be heading into the season. Pitching against a few of the clubs we'll play during the season was good because I get a fresh look at the new guys that I'll be facing. I just wanted to make sure I got in good repetition with my delivery and my pitches, and I feel like I'll be ready go to.
Inside Pitch: This is your second spring training. What differences have been there for you after a first camp in which you may have been a bit overwhelmed? Was it easier coming in and knowing what to expect?
Allen: Yea, definitely. My first spring training I came in and didn't know what to expect or what to do. This year, I knew exactly what was going to go on, how we were going to do, what the schedule was going to be like. It made it a lot easier for me to focus on my work, get my work in and get ready for the season which are the most important things.
Inside Pitch: Your teammate Robert Carson said this was the most competitive camp he has experienced yet. Do you get that sense? Do you feel a real competitive vibe during this year's spring training?
Allen: Everybody is in there fighting for their job and trying to make different clubs so you can tell it can get competitive. Everybody wants to move up the organization. The best thing I can do is not get caught up in that and go out there and play baseball. It's best to not try too hard. When that happens, you aren't going to play the way you want. If I just work hard and do what I have to do, and compete, then I'll be fine.
Inside Pitch: At this point, it looks very likely that you'll be staying in St. Lucie. Have you given any thought to that yet? Have you thought about pitching at a new level?
Allen: I'm just going to go out there, pitch and do my best. Whatever club they decide to put me on, then that's the club they thing I'm best suited for. I'm always shooting for the big leagues so it doesn't matter too much where I go. I'm trying to go for a winning season. ThaT I feel like will take care of a lot of things..
Inside Pitch: With the move to St. Lucie, the rotation you were part of last year should stay pretty much intact. Does having that familiarity in the rotation help you guys at all?
Allen: To me, we are really close to each other. I love to compete, but I don't really compete with guys on my own team. When we go into the game, I'm just trying to win. I know that's what all the other guys are trying to do. To me, we're just one unit together trying to win.
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