If you haven’t heard of the Cleveland Indians centerfield prospect Greg Allen, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. After an award-winning 2016 and a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, it’s certainly time to pay attention.
(Remember, this is a profile. I’m not a scout, and unless they’ve played in the southeast, I likely haven’t seen them play live, which is the case with Allen, who jumped from Lynchburg, Virginia to Akron, Ohio in 2016. These are simply observations I’ve put together from reading and talking to people on the speedy outfielder.)
So who is Greg Allen?
He was drafted in the 2014 MLB Draft, selected in the sixth round out of San Diego State. If you’re looking for big-time power numbers, Allen isn’t your guy. If you’re looking for a speed-demon who makes good contact and gets on base at a good rate, Allen is just the guy you are looking for. He slashed .302/.385/.380 swiping 25 of his 30 stolen base attempts in his final season with the Aztecs.
Allen’s half-season 2014 debut wasn’t anything to propel him to the top of the Indians' prospect lists, but he flashed that top-notch speed, leading the New York-Penn League in stolen bases with 30, more impressively, at an 85 percent success rate. 2015 saw him finish second in the Midwest League in stolen bases, stealing 43 of his 59 chances. Much like his first season, he also showed the ability to keep the strikeouts at bay, while walking nearly the same amount of time, finishing the 2015 season with 55 walks to 60 strikeouts over 580 plate appearances. He also found some power, raking seven home runs in his first full-season.
Allen really broke out this season. As previously mentioned, he played across two levels of ball, and upon his promotion to Double-A, he continued to hit. Allen finally converted that solid contact rate into base hits, slashing .295/.416/.413, all of which were career highs. He finished second in the Carolina League with 38 stolen bases in just 92 games, successfully swiping 45 bases in total. His wheels also have allowed him to score runs by the boat load, leading the Carolina League with 93 before adding 26 more in Akron. He kept that strikeout-to-walk rate at an impressive mark, striking out 78 times and walking 77.
Did I mention he is one of the best fielders in the minor leagues?
His blazing speed helps his range and there is nary a ball that falls into centerfield on Allen’s watch. He made a mere two errors in 332 chances, setting a career high in assists with 15 while starting four double plays. His defensive work would not go unnoticed as he took home the 2016 Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
Next up for Allen was a stint with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. Once again, Allen found himself atop the leaderboards in stolen bases tied with the Mets Champ Stuart with 12 as best in the desert. He also showed his defensive flare, playing all three positions in the outfield. He even took home his first career Player of the Week Award.
There is simply a lot to like about Allen. His biggest asset is obviously his speed, as it helps him on the bases and in the outfield. His eye and plate discipline are also highly-advanced which allows him more chances to both steal bases and score runs. While he will never be a 20 home run hitter, he has nice power, mostly from the left-handed side of the plate, blasting six of his seven home runs off of righties this season. As our friends at MLBFarm show, he has the ability to keep the ball on the ground, and scatter the ball to all fields, as 87 of his hits went to center, 81 to right and 79 landed in left.
The Indians farm system is still pretty solid, despite trading away some of their bigger pieces last season. Now 23 years old, Allen may not crack the Indians top ten prospects to start the season, but this year’s improvement will certainly make him an exciting prospect to watch in 2017.