PEORIA, Ariz. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Padres camp, it was No. 9 prospect Logan Allen. A Red Sox eighth-round pick out of the IMG
PEORIA, Ariz. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Padres camp, it was No. 9 prospect Logan Allen.
A Red Sox eighth-round pick out of the IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) last June, Allen signed for $725,000. After a strong pro debut that saw him rise to Short Season Lowell while recording a 1.11 ERA and 26/1 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings, he got traded to the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel trade in November. He's a polished left-hander who has a chance to develop four solid or better pitches.
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MLBPipeline.com: How tough a decision was it to leave your home in North Carolina and go pitch at IMG for two years? How much has that decision paid off?
Allen: It was difficult leaving my family and friends in North Carolina. I had pitched in some camps and a wood-bat league when I was a freshman and sophomore, and they called and said they'd like me to come to their school program. It was a very difficult decision, but I needed help to get where I wanted to be. Working with all the coaches down there made me feel more prepared for pro ball. I had coaches like [former big leaguers] Steve Frey, Tony Ferreira and Chris Sabo, and they treated you like a professional even though you were in high school. It was tremendous.
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MLBPipeline.com: Your stuff seemed like it kicked up a notch last spring, with your fastball going from the high 80s to the low 90s and your Draft stock rising accordingly. How did that happen?
Allen: Going into my senior year, I wasn't expecting to light the gun up. That was never me. I knew I had it in me and could get to 93 mph. Working with strength coaches like Will Townsley at IMG, I got a little bigger, a little stronger, began eating better, and I saw my velocity stat to climb. The velocity jump wasn't something I planned on but it was a good thing.
MLBPipeline.com: What did you think of the transition to pro ball? It obviously went well for you. Did you expect to have success so quickly pitching against older hitters?
Allen: I wasn't so much worried about being successful. I was worried about helping my team win ballgames. I was very happy. I didn't expect to do that well, but I knew if I threw strikes and kept the ball down, I had a chance to be successful. We faced older guys at IMG and it was basically the same thing. Throw strikes and everything should work out. That's where IMG really helped out.
MLBPipeline.com: Less than five months after you turned pro with the Red Sox, you suddenly got traded to the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel deal. How much of a surprise was that?
Allen: It was very unexpected. I had just gotten my hair cut and I got a phone call from [Boston farm director] Ben Crockett, telling me I had been traded to the Padres. I asked him if that was allowed. It was a shock at first. My first call was to Jake Nix [who had pitched in IMG's post-graduate program during the spring], not even my parents. I told him, "Dude, you won't believe what just happened." He's a close friend, so it made this more comfortable. This organization is just as good as anyone, so it's not a concern. It's just a change. It's a business.
MLBPipeline.com: You pitched with him at IMG, so what's your scouting report on Jason Groome, a possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 Draft?
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Allen: Oh man, Groomie, he's unbelievable. He's one of the best left-handed pitchers I've played with. I tried to guide him a little bit at IMG when we were there. He has unbelievable stuff. If he keeps his head on straight, and I know he will, he'll go 1-1 this year. He's a competitor. He's young for his grade, too. He has an unbelievable amount of talent and there's no doubt in my mind that he'll be successful in the big leagues.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter.