Hello Cafe members and welcome to this week’s edition of Recent MLB Call-Ups, the series that highlights one recent minor-leaguer’s call to the big club. Whether you are looking for a guy with a long-term keeper potential for a dynasty league, or help getting a jump on all the owners in your league scouring the waiver wire for a player to help contribute during your playoff run. This week, we’re looking at Diamondbacks 1B Brandon Allen.
Brandon Allen, Arizona Diamondbacks, Age 23
Before the Chicago White Sox seemingly threw in the towel on the season August 31 before the waiver trade deadline, sending Jim Thome to the Los Angels Dodgers and Jose Contreras to the Colorado Rockies, they sent one of their top prospects to the Arizona Diamondbacks for some relief pitching help on July 7 for the stretch run. A questionable trade at the time, sending Brandon Allen to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Tony Pena, it might get overlooked as one of the worst trades during the 2009 season. With current White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko under contract until 2010, the Brandon Allen era looked to begin sometime next season, but that is all an afterthought.
Brandon Allen was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the fifth round of the 2004 June First-Year Player Draft at the age of 18. He spent the first two years of his professional career in Rookie ball with the Bristol (Appalachian League) White Sox and Great Falls (Pioneer League) White Sox, with not much success. In the ’06 and ’07 seasons, he started to progress as a hitter in Single-A with the Kannapolis Intimidators of the South Atlantic League, but all the while struggling to limit his strikeouts (250 times in 988 at-bats over the two seasons). During the ’08 season Allen started to show his power potential, still striking out frequently (124 times in 539 at-bats), but hitting 29 homeruns between Single-A Advanced Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham.
At the start of this season Allen was in Double-A with the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League, where he hit .290 with only seven home runs in 241 at-bats before getting called up to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights beginning June 19. In only 61 at-bats for Charlott,e Allen had hardly any impact, hitting only one home run, driving in only eight and holding down a modest .262 batting average. When Allen was traded for Tony Pena he was shipped off to the Reno Aces, joining the Triple-A farm team for the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 9, where he turned his season around. The trade was either a shot in the arm, or a wake up call for the now-23-year-old first base prospect. Allen was a force that not many Pacific Coast League pitchers were able to deal with. In just under a month and a half in the PCL Allen hit .324 with 12 home runs, but most importantly he only struck out an impressive 25 times and walked 20 times. Significant improvements in plate discipline from the ’06 and ’07 version of the first base slugger.
Brandon Allen – Reno Aces (Triple-A) 2009 Statistics
The Diamondbacks called Allen up on August 22 and optioned first baseman Josh Whitesell to Reno. Since his call-up Allen has started at first base in 14 of the 15 games he has appeared in. However, the start to his Major League career has been a slow one, and struggles with his plate discipline can once again be to blame — he’s struck out a dreadful 41% of the time in his 46 at-bats, over double the league average! Allen still continues to develop as a baseball player, not only as a Major Leaguer, and should be able to provide the Diamondbacks with plenty of power at the right-side corner of the Arizona infield for years to come.
Brandon Allen – Arizona Diamondbacks 2009 Statistics
Even though he looks to be the every-day first baseman from here on out, Allen will probably not provide much value for Arizona or fantasy players for the remainder of the season. On the other hand, he is a prospect with vicious power that could go on a home run streak at any moment. His development will continue for the remainder of the season, and Allen’s main focus needs to be concentrating on his hitting approach in an effort to significantly limit his strikeouts. He showed these skills at the Triple-A level just before his call-up on August 22, and I believe Arizona should remain confident that it will come together at the Major League level.
Allen has been knocked for his lack of defensive ability, often called a liability at first base. While his skill set may have better served him as a DH in the American League, Allen now finds himself in the league for baseball purists. It is more than likely that Allen will be the Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman when the 2010 season begins. That should spell a long off-season of honing his defense skills. Allen will be 24 at the start of next season, and with some improvements to his approach at the plate and his glove in the field, we could see him as the guy holding down first base in Arizona for the future.
I would love to hear from you, loyal members of the Cafe, so please PM me with any comments or questions. Talk to you next time; meanwhile, I will keep an eye on those transaction reports!
Bryan L. Schubert is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Bryan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Ninja BlackSox.
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