About two months ago, I covered Jameson Taillon’s pro debut in West Virginia. It was raining that night, and Taillon’s outing was shortened as a result, with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top pitching prospect allowing a run on three hits in two innings, with two walks and no strikeouts. Tonight, Stetson Allie made his pro debut in State College, and prior to the game, it looked like it could have been a repeat of Taillon’s debut.
The game, scheduled to start at 7:05 PM, was delayed 52 minutes due to rain. It looked like the 2010 2nd round pick was going to be subjected to the same conditions that the 2010 1st round pick faced. The rain eventually cleared way, but that didn’t prevent a shortened outing for the hard throwing right handed pitching prospect. Allie lasted just 2.1 innings, allowing three runs on three hits, with three walks and three strikeouts.
“He went out there strong,” State College manager Kimera Bartee said of the outing. “Went right after hitters with a nasty breaking ball. As the game went on, he was trying to hit the corner, just missing off the corner, missing off the corner. Ended up snowballing on him.”
Things looked promising at first. Allie started off his pro career with a three pitch strikeout, getting designated hitter Seth Bynum swinging on a breaking ball. Those three strikes might have tied the amount of strikes that Allie threw in the entire time I saw him in Spring Training earlier in the year. Allie gave up a hard hit single to center against the next batter, then bounced back with a second strikeout, this time getting Russell Moldenhauer swinging. An Adrian Nieto double brought in the first run of the game, before Allie escaped the inning with an easy liner to first baseman Walker Gourley.
Allie’s second inning was much smoother. He led off with a strikeout, catching Rick Hughes looking. A ground out and a fly out later, and Allie had his first 1-2-3 inning of his career.
It wasn’t that easy in the third. Allie started off the frame with a leadoff single, then walked the second batter, his first walk of the game. After getting a fly out to left, Allie issued two straight walks, including a four pitch walk with the bases loaded. Allie had some close calls around the plate, although the last two pitches he really missed his spots with the batter taking all the way.
“I was real anxious,” Allie said of his debut. “First two innings I felt like I rolled through. I got out to the third, I felt like the umpire squeezed me a little bit and just didn’t get out of it.”
Fastball command was a big issue for Allie, and the primary reason he was held back in Extended Spring Training, then sent to State College.
“It improved significantly over the course of extended,” Pirates Director of Player Development Kyle Stark said. “I think anytime, first start under the lights, you wonder where it’s going to go. I thought it was pretty good. He just at the end had that stretch against left handed hitters, and just kept missing arm side. It wasn’t like he was spraying the ball all around. I thought he executed some pretty good pitches in some tough situations.”
Allie threw 53 pitches, 31 of which were strikes. He was working in the 90-93 MPH range, touching 95 in the first inning. He showed a nice slider, getting the swinging strikeout in the first on an 89 MPH offering, and threw a good amount of off-speed pitches throughout the game, with more than you’d expect from a State College pitcher. When asked, Allie said his best pitch felt like his fastball, although he also felt comfortable with the secondary pitches, which is a good sign from him.
“Slider was good,” Allie said about how his off-speed pitches went. “I threw two changeups too that I thought were real good. Fouled the one off, and I got the other guy out in front and missed it. Off-speed was good, just fastball command was an issue in the third inning.”
“I think part of that is that he has some feel for those pitches, and that can help him get back in to an even count,” Stark said of his off-speed pitches. “And the other thing is that he got in to some two strike counts. Quite a few two strike counts, so he was able to go to it a lot. I think it’s just one of those things where he’s got some feel for it, and he’s going to use that. At the same time we’ve got to balance out the development of the fastball command.”
The changeup is something Allie has been working on every day, as he didn’t have a good feel for that pitch coming in to the season. Allie describes it as a ‘work in progress’, although the progress is looking good considering he felt comfortable enough to throw it tonight.
“The fact that he threw it, not too many power guys we will even see a changeup from them early, especially his first start,” Stark said about the pitch. “And for him to do it, I think that speaks volumes about the progress he’s made with (State College pitching coach) Justin Meccage and (Pirates pitching coordinator) Jim Benedict.”
Allie was only expected to throw three innings tonight. He will make his next start on Saturday.
Cliff Archibald followed Allie up with his State College debut, and got out of the jam, but not before allowing a run to score, giving Allie his final earned run of the game. Archibald went on to pitch 2.2 innings, allowing one hit, and two walks, while striking out two.
Emmanuel De Leon came on in the sixth inning, and displayed some good movement on a 91-93 MPh fastball. De Leon’s fastball had arm side movement, breaking in on right handers, and tailing away from left handers. He also threw a slider which had the opposite effect. De Leon looked good in his first inning, but allowed two hard hit balls in his second frame, the second of which went for a two run homer. He allowed two more runs in the eighth, before Jesus Brito came on to end the inning. Brito pitched 1.1 shutout innings, striking out two, but didn’t really have overly impressive stuff.
The State College offense looked good tonight, although they couldn’t make up for the pitching staff. Samuel Gonzalez went 2-for-2 with two sacrifice fly RBIs, knocking in three of the six Spikes runs. Justin Bencsko went 3-for-5 with a stolen base, displaying his plus-plus speed with two infield singles. One came on a diving stop by the third baseman on the shortstop side, and the other came against a charging shortstop on a slow roller. Kirk Singer went 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk, although he was a bit wild with some of his throws on the field, with a throwing error, and later a throw as the cut-off man that was off the mark to the plate.
State College takes on Auburn again tomorrow at 7:05 PM. Joely Rodriguez will take the mound, making his second appearance, and first start of the 2011 season for the Spikes. I will be covering the game, starting at least an hour before the first pitch.
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