What Stetson Allie needs to take final step with Rays

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Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times
·4 min read
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PORT CHARLOTTE — Stetson Allie definitely has the ability.

Rays outfielder Austin Meadows and starter Tyler Glasnow saw it when the three were coming up together in the Pirates’ minor-league system, marveling at how far Allie could hit a baseball and how hard he could throw it.

“He’s just a freak athlete,” Glasnow said. “To hit some unbelievable bombs and also throw 101 (mph) regularly, it’s nuts.”

After pitching his first pro season, Allie tried hitting. He showed the power but not enough consistency during five-plus seasons in the minors with Pittsburgh, getting no higher than Double-A. He switched to pitching full-time in 2017 in the Dodgers system, and the results were similar.

Allie impressed with his velocity but was held back by an inability to consistently throw strikes with his fastball or the slider he needs as an off-speed option, walking 75 and striking out 120 in 92 innings.

After the lost 2020 minor-league season (he signed a minor-league deal with the Red Sox in February 2020), Allie is now with the Rays, trying to take that final step.

“He’s got special stuff,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve got to find a way to harness it in the zone.”

Allie, who turns 30 Saturday, naturally is confident he can make it work this time.

He said he has become more of a pitcher than a thrower, as when he first hit 100 mph as a high school senior in 2010, which got him a $2.25 million bonus as a second-round pick. He has not only accepted but now values the benefit of the secondary pitch (he threw the slider for more strikes than the fastball during a one-inning outing Wednesday). He has gained the experience — and perspective that the path to the majors can be arduous — to establish the proper foundation for success.

And he has grown as a person. While still the fun-loving, life-of-the-clubhouse guy at times (though cutting short the rock star/pro wrestler hair he’d worn on his 6-foot-2, 245-pound frame), he is more serious now than when he came up about the routine and preparation required.

“I was young, I was given some money, and I just was immature,” Allie said. “I didn’t listen to a lot of people. And now I’m trying to break that mold and trying to intake everything I can and really trying to be the best me I can be. What I’ve done in the past just hasn’t worked. It’s time to move on and really find something that works and listen to people that have been there, done that.”

The Dodgers steered him in that direction during his three-year stay, the suggestion to switch to pitching full time “definitely” the right move, even if it meant returning to the rookie-ball level.

“I knew it was kind of the inevitable,” Allie said. “My arm was my ticket to the big leagues. It always has been, always will be. It was more putting my ego aside. I wanted to hit home runs, I wanted to do this, I wanted to do that.”

Dodgers assistant general manager Brandon Gomes, a former Rays reliever, said the organization was pleased with Allie’s attitude and progress, though they mutually agreed after the 2019 season that he would have better opportunities elsewhere.

“(Allie has) some of the easiest upper-90s (stuff) I think I’ve ever seen, so that alone puts him in a special group,” Gomes said. “While he continued to work on his slider with us, it flashed (as a plus pitch) at times. It’s really just locking in the consistency of his delivery and arsenal, because the components are certainly there.”

“... Put it this way — I wouldn’t be shocked if it just clicks and this guy is pitching leveraged innings at some point.”

Allie, who grew up in Orlando (his dad, Danny, coached future big-leaguers Johnny Damon and A.J. Pierzynski at Dr. Phillips High), is confident it will happen with the Rays, who reached out after he had signed with an independent league team. Allie raves about how comfortable and confident the team has made him feel since he signed a minor-league deal.

“Their track record is everything and more that I’ve wanted,” Allie said. “All the teams I’ve been on have been great, I just feel like Tampa Bay is really invested in making me the best pitcher I can be. When they had interest in me, I was like, ‘Yes, this is the team, this is the year.’”

Now Allie, who was named somewhat after the college in DeLand, just has to do it.

“That is a key word, harness,” Allie’s father said, echoing Cash’s comment. “Absolutely. He’s got the talent.”