Jun 4, 2012, 8:49 AM EST
The Pirates’ 2010 second round draft pick is a guy named Stetson Allie. He’s a pitcher with 100 m.p.h. gas who has a bit of a control problem. And by “a bit” I mean “a massive, horrible control problem.” So the Pirates are trying something:
The Pirates are converting high-priced prospect Stetson Allie from pitcher to hitter, the Tribune-Review has learned … Neal Huntington, the Pirates’ general manager, said the change was made “recently.” No new position was specified, but Allie played third base in high school.
“Stetson was one of the few athletes in each draft to be considered a prospect as a pitcher and as a hitter,” Huntington said Sunday night from Bradenton, Fla. “We believed his highest upside was as a pitcher. We obviously were very pleased to sign him as a pitcher. Since then, we’ve faced some challenges with him as a pitcher.”
Challenges defined: Last season, in 26 innings, he walked 29 and gave up another 20 hits. He also struck out 28 guys in those 26 innings. In two-thirds of an inning this season, across two games, Allie walked eight dudes. He has been shut down for over a month as a result, with the Pirates trying to remake his delivery. That’s apparently not working, thus the change.
When I think about prospect conversion projects I can’t help but think of another Pirate: John Van Benschoten, who the Pirates drafted in the first round in 2001. He was an incredible power hitting prospect, leading all of college baseball in home runs during his final year at Kent State. He was also the team’s closer, and the Pirates figured that they’d make him a pitcher in their system. From what I remember at the time, no other team pictured him as a pitcher and if he had fallen below the eighth overall pick that year, someone would have snagged him as an outfielder.
Van Benschoten made the bigs as a pitcher, but probably wouldn’t have in any other organization. He was a disaster in his time in the majors and his career fizzled out due to torn labrums and other such nastiness. In what seemed like a taunt from some alternate universe, Van Benschoten hit a home run in his second big league game.
These are obviously different circumstances. The Pirates organization of 2012 is not the Pirates organization of 2001. And, unlike, Van Benschoten, Allie was given a chance to do what folks expected him to do before failing and, eventually, conversion. But even if this is the right move, it solidifies the Pirates in my mind as The Team That Converts Early Round Prospects. And that’s not something you hear about too often.
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