Morning Report: Stetson Allie Offers a Rare Combo of Power and Plate Patience

It’s always fun to look back on historic stats to find comparisons for current players in the minor league system. We did it last week with Willy Garcia to show how rare it is for a batter with a low walk rate and high strikeout rate to make an impact in the majors. We also did it for Alen Hanson, to show how rare it is for someone to have his combination of power and speed. Today we take a look at the last two seasons from Stetson Allie. He offers a special combination of plate patience and power, hitting 21 homers in each of the last two seasons while also leading all Pirates minor league players in walks both years. Just how rare is that though?

We will use 20 homers as a cutoff for this research and 70 walks, since he walked 71 times this year and 77 times last year. How often does a minor league player actually hit 20 homers while walking 70 times? And how hard is it to accomplish twice?

The last player to reach 20/70 for the Pirates was Pedro Alvarez in 2009 with 27 homers and 71 walks. That’s a pretty good comp for Allie, featuring a Major Leaguer with success and also five seasons without anyone else accomplishing the feat. Alvarez didn’t put back-to-back 20/70 seasons together though.

Allie led the Pirates system in walks the last two seasons (Photo credit: David Hague)
Allie led the Pirates system in walks the last two seasons (Photo credit: David Hague)

The next example is an extreme one and one that isn’t comparable to anything you see now with the Pirates. Back when Dave Littlefield was in charge, it was important for minor league teams to have winning seasons. That’s great for the actual affiliate, but when a 27-year-old Pat Magness hits 24 homers and draws 114 walks in A-Ball during the 2005 season, it doesn’t help this discussion. Magness was in his sixth season of pro ball after attending Wichita State for four years, so that tells you all you need to know.

Going back to 2003, we have a good comp for Allie, Chris Shelton. He had 21 homers and 76 walks, splitting the season between High-A and AA. Just like Allie, Shelton was 23 years old that season and he also spent most of his time at first base. He was a Rule V draft pick the next year and spent parts of five seasons in the Majors, putting up an .870 OPS in 2005.

The 2000 season provides another horrible comparison and a player most fans will remember. Then 28-year-old Adam Hyzdu had 31 homers and 94 walks for Altoona. With ten years of pro experience and four years of AAA prior to the 2000 season, he had no business being with Altoona, but the fans seemed to like him.

In 1999, we get our first example that leaves some doubt for Allie. Eddie Furniss was a 23-year-old first baseman with 23 homers and 94 walks. He was a level lower than Allie, but his age was still acceptable for High-A ball and he did have a better season. Unlike Allie though, Furniss only had one comparable season. The bad part is that he never even made it to AAA.

In 1998, first baseman Tracy Sanders had 22 homers and 94 walks in AA. You might say, that’s bad because you’ve probably never heard of Sanders. Don’t worry, he was 28 years old and in his ninth season of pro ball. He was also coming off a 21 homers/74 walk season in 1997 at AA, so there is your first example of a player accomplishing the same two-year feat as Allie. Those were Sanders sixth and seventh seasons at AA, so let’s try to find an actual good example.

That 1997 season also provided a name that most Pirates fans don’t like to hear, but in this case, it’s sort of good for Allie. Aramis Ramirez had 29 homers and 80 walks in High-A ball that year. He was also 19 at the time, which makes it a little difficult to compare him to a 23-year-old at AA, although you can give Allie some age credit for time served as a pitcher.

To this point, you have four good examples to look at and two guys that had no business being at the level they were at. Before Ramirez though, there was a long streak without anyone showing a great power/patience combo. You have to go back all the way to 1981, when two players reached both marks.

We will ignore the 32-year-old Rusty Torres at AAA and look at 22-year-old first baseman Eddie Vargas, who was in AA that year. Vargas played for the Pirates at the end of the 1982 season and saw limited time. He returned to the team for 18 games in 1984 and that was his only experience in the Majors. Vargas had some decent numbers at AAA between 1982-85 before being released.

That isn’t the type of comp you like to see, but it gives us a fifth outcome that shows you can’t predict what will happen with a player like Allie. Aramis Ramirez put together a great career, while Pedro Alvarez has looked like a star at times, showing a little more than Chris Shelton, who looked like a star for months then burned out quick. You have Vargas, who had a couple cups of coffee with the Pirates and Furniss, who never made the majors. I guess you could say that there is a great chance that Allie makes the majors, but from there, he has a wide range of possible outcomes. Ramirez is the least comparable player of these examples since he was so young when he did it, so you might be able to eliminate him too.

To answer the second question about back-to-back seasons and how often it happens. There are a lot of great reasons to ignore the Tracy Sanders example above and continue to look for a better player. You have to go back to 1961-62 for a legit example, first baseman Gary Rushing. He was playing in A-Ball as a 23-year-old in 1961 and repeated the level for most of next season. While he didn’t make the majors, he was a decent age for the level back then. It was also 52 years ago and both homers and walks were more prevalent back then, at least in the Pirates system. Ten guys hit at least 20 homers that year and six of them never made the majors. One that did make the majors from that group of ten was Willie Stargell, which would obviously be the outcome people would love to get from Allie. One can dream can’t they?

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 2.5 games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead. They are three games ahead of  Atlanta and 1.5 ahead of Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot. The Pirates are four games behind San Francisco for the first Wild Card spot.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes:  The Pirates won 7-3 over the Cubs on Friday night. Jeff Locke will make his 19th start of the season tonight. He has not faced the Cubs yet this season. In his last start, Locke allowed one run on three hits over seven innings. He had a season-high nine strikeouts. This year in Pittsburgh, he has a 3.47 ERA in nine starts, compared to 3.74 on the road. The minor league season is over. You can read the DSL season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player and the top ten players to watch list can be found here. We will post other season recaps soon.

MLB: Pittsburgh (78-69)  vs Cubs (64-83) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (3.60 ERA, 78:32 K/BB, 115 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (73-71)

AA: Altoona (61-81)

High-A: Bradenton (78-61)

Low-A: West Virginia (54-81)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (35-40)

RK: Bristol (22-46)

GCL: Pirates (20-40)

DSL: Pirates (34-36)

Highlights

With the minor league season over, it’s time to take a look back at some recent video from the GCL, which we will continue to do over the next few days. All videos are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page. Below is a video of right-handed reliever Christopher De Leon, who finished the season with Bristol. While in the GCL, the 22-year-old had a 2.16 ERA in 16.2 innings, with a .213 BAA and a 1.08 WHIP. De Leon spent four seasons in the DSL, where he began his career as a starter, before moving full-time to the bullpen during the 2012 season. In the video, first round draft pick Cole Tucker makes a nice play to his left, but he threw the ball away. It’s still a nice show of his range on a ball up the middle.

Recent Transactions

9/8: Pirates release Ernesto Frieri.

9/7: Michael Martinez and Chris McGuiness clear waivers and were outrighted to Indianapolis.

9/2: Pirates recall Gregory Polanco, Jeff Locke, John Holdzkom, Casey Sadler and Bobby LaFromboise.

9/2: Chase d’Arnaud added to 40-man roster and promoted to Pittsburgh. Michael Martinez designated for assignment.

9/1: Pirates recall Gerrit Cole and Tony Sanchez. Stolmy Pimentel activated from the disabled list

9/1: Pirates designate Chris McGuiness for assignment. John Holdzkom added to 40-man roster.

This Date in Pirates History

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including two players traded for Jason Schmidt and for the second day in a row, a Pirates third baseman that was teammates with his brother. Denny Neagle and Armando Rios were never teammates with the Pirates, but they are linked in team history and both were born on September 13th. Neagle was sent to the Atlanta Braves on August 28,1996 in exchange for Schmidt. Almost five years later, Rios was part of the return from the San Francisco Giants when the two teams hooked up for a trade deadline deal.

Also born on this date was Adam LaRoche, who turns 31 today and 6’7″ pitcher Tom Parsons, who lasted just one September game back in 1963 for the Pirates. Today’s link includes bios for all four players, as well as a game recap from the 1970 season in which the Pirates were defeated by the Cubs at Wrigley Field in a heart-breaking loss.

On this date in 1956, Elroy Face pitched for the ninth consecutive game. He led the league in games pitched that year with 68, which would end up being his career high. During the streak, the Pirates had three days off, though he pitched a doubleheader. The strange part was that the Pirates were wrapping up a 66-88 season at the time and manager Bobby Bragan was leading them to a seventh place finish. Face was wrongly credited at the time with a MLB record for consecutive games pitched.

  • Eddie Vargas was my favorite ‘cult’ type player in that era!

  • There’s another interesting person that you could put into that category, but in a roundabout way (2 half seasons that would constitute one full season):

    Allie has those numbers through 117 games and 486 PAs.

    Barry Bonds played in 2 half seasons (71 games in A ball after he signed in 1995, 44 games in AAA in the spring of 1986 before being promoted to the Majors for good) for a total of 115 games and 482 PAs.

    His numbers: exactly 20 HRs and 70 BBs.

  • I believe Allie only has about 2 years of pro ball as a hitter, so we might want to give him a little more time to develop.

  • Let’s hope GOOD Locke shows up today!

  • One that did make the majors from that group of ten was Willie Stargell, which would obviously be the outcome people would love to get from Allie. One can dream can’t they?

    Well. MY first thought was a RH Adam Dunn, but I’ll take that comparison. 😜😜😜

  • Allie has to hit better the 240 if he is going to make it. I think he is close and has a chance but right now I don’t see it.

    • He’s almost like a RH Ike Davis with power? Or a RH Pedro that walks?

      • I have not seen enough of Allie, does he argue about every outside pitch with the umpire? Can he hit an outside pitch?

      • And that’s certainly not a compliment….comparing anyone to Ike Davis that is….

    • I saw Allie play twice this season – once in Altoona and once in Reading. He didn’t do much in either game at the plate, but I was impressed with how he was a much better first baseman than I thought he would be. He was much more mobile that I expected and made some nice plays around the bag.

  • I remember Eddie Furniss, ONLY because I used to joke that his older brother was Steve.

    • I remember him very well. A tall LH hitting 1st baseman who hit really well in college with some power. He might have even lead the NCAA in HRs one year. ( ? ) But that aluminum to wooden bat transition didn’t work out very well for him.

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