Athletics

What A's prospect Allen learned at alternate site in 2020

Athletics
Nick Allen, A's

Even after the cancelation of the 2020 Minor League season, Nick Allen still found himself back at Excite Ballpark in San Jose, Calif. 

It wasn't for a game against the San Jose Giants, like what may have been planned. However, in the long run, it may have been for the better. 

The A's used San Jose's facilities to host their alternate site, where Allen spent the summer. He gained valuable time with Oakland's player development staff as they worked to further develop the 22-year-old after the loss of a full minor league season. Allen spoke with MLB Pipeline's Jonathan Mayo, sharing the value of his experience.

"I thought last year, the 2020 season, being at the alternate site, I just learned so much," Allen said.  "You didn't get a lot of at-bats, but you got to face a lot of pitchers that have stuff at the higher levels and really know how to command their pitches and sequences.

"For me, I developed in that aspect. How to step in the box, how to formulate a game plan ... that's really where I developed a lot."

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That's good news for Allen, who missed a significant chunk of the 2019 season with a high ankle sprain in June. While he was able to gain some reps back by participating in the Arizona Fall League later that year, his missed time, coupled with the ensuing elimination of the Minor League season, was a cause for concern for the A's. 

 

Obviously, training at the alternate site didn't make up for the loss of 140 Minor League games. But in Allen's case, he was able to focus on other factors that led to a different type of development. Working alongside fellow top prospects, along with an array of big leaguers and coaches, led to that. 

"It's definitely awesome when you can go pick it with some other guys, players and coaches, that obviously have had a lot of success in this game," Allen said. 

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Selected by the A's in the third round of the 2017 draft, Allen sits as the organization's fourth-ranked prospect per MLB.com. Though he's yet to play above Class-A ball, he's already profiled as an elite middle infielder. Allen's primary position is shortstop, and while he can slot over to second base, his quick hands, plus range and speedy footwork portray a long-term career at the former. 

His ankle injury limited him to 72 games with the Ports in 2019, but he compiled a noteworthy .292/.363/.434 line while legging out 22 doubles and five triples. This was especially encouraging to the A's, as Allen's offensive production had been a question in seasons prior. As a result, he was invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee in 2020.

Now, the A's will hope Allen's boosted development last summer can withstand another uncertainty-ridden season. If it does, he could be with the big league squad at some point come 2021.