MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Allie's shift from mound to first could pay off for Bucs

When the Pirates took Stetson Allie in the second round of the 2010 Draft, then gave him a well-above-slot deal to sign, it was for his power right arm, not his bat.

Things didn't go so well for Allie on the mound, however. The big right-hander always had arm strength, with the ability to hit triple digits on the radar gun. Command was an issue, but the hope was, in time, he'd work past it enough to at least be a power short reliever. Allie struck out 9.7 per nine during his pro debut in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2011, but he also walked 11 per nine.

Allie was sent to full-season West Virginia in 2012. But after two outings, totaling just two-thirds of an inning, he had walked eight. Allie was sent to extended spring camp, initially to try and work through it. But when things didn't get much better, both player and organization agreed it was time to do something different.

So Allie began making the transition to being a position player. He made it out to the Gulf Coast League a summer ago, playing mostly first with some third mixed in. Allie picked up 150 at-bats in the process, hitting .213/.314/.340 over 42 games, including 11 extra-base hits.

Allie has almost reached that in his first 11 games of 2013. Exclusively playing first, he is back in West Virginia and instead of lighting up radar guns, he's lighting up South Atlantic League pitching. Allie has nine extra-base hits over his first 48 at-bats and is currently leading the South Atlantic League in home runs (five), RBIs (16), slugging (.792) and OPS (1.236). He's second in all of Minor League baseball in homers and RBIs. Sure, it's a small sample size, but it can't help but give the Pirates some hope that they'll get a return, albeit different from what they expected, on their Draft investment with Allie.

"Stetson has certainly gotten off to a good start and is showing the tools he displayed as an amateur," Pirates assistant general manager Kyle Stark said. "Obviously, he was highly regarded as a high school hitter as well. The key for Stetson is he has bought into this process, is having fun playing baseball again, and is embracing the daily grind of making adjustments and improving. He has been fun to watch."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.