Focused on improving their entire organization this off-season; the Toronto Blue Jays have made several moves that are designed to improve every club in their system. While the signing of Russell Martin and the trade for Josh Donaldson takes the cake, the Blue Jays have continued their efforts to better their affiliate clubs as well. With a continued focus on developing quality pitching prospects throughout their system, the organization chose to pick up the option on right-handed pitcher Brad Allen.
Picking up Allen’s option was a no brainer for the Blue Jays, as the righty came into the organization last May and did nothing, but impress in his 75 1/3 innings of work with the Blue Jays Midwest League affiliate, the Lansing Lugnuts.
Allen was tough on hitters all season in Lansing. In fact, the Illinois native racked up 82 strikeouts on his way to an impressive 9.8 K/9 ratio. Another stat that really turned heads was Allen’s 1.248 WHIP that complemented his 3.11 ERA nicely.
Immediately impressed with the way Allen works hard to find continued success in the game of baseball, former Lansing Lugnuts and current Dunedin Blue Jays pitching coach Vince Horsman described the righty as a real go-getter.
“I really like Brad,” explained Horsman. “Brad is a real go-getter. He works extremely hard and really attacks the hitters when he is on the mound. He’s fun to watch, because he really understands pitching and what it takes from pitch one to whenever we need to take him out of the game. It’s great that the Blue Jays brought Brad into their system.”
Taking Horsman’s comment to heart; Allen credits the influence that both his parents and grandparents had on him as a child. He feels his hard-working mentality is a direct effect of the information they instilled on him growing up.
“I pride myself of being a go-getter,” said Allen. “I think it goes back to how I was raised. My parents and grandparents really instilled that mindset in me. They always told me to work hard for whatever I want whether its in baseball, school, or relationships, you have to work hard for them and when somebody tells me something like that it means the world to me.”
Prior to joining the Blue Jays, Allen spent three seasons in professional baseball. Spending two seasons in independent baseball and another one in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, both of which taught the young prospect to never take any opportunity for granted.
“I value the opportunity to perform in front of a new set of eyes,” said Allen. “There’s so many guys out there playing baseball and it only takes one guy to notice you. There are so many organizations and teams out there, so when you get an opportunity, you need to seize it. If you do that, you can go home knowing that you did everything you could to better yourself. That’s how I see things.”
Completing his biggest baseball accomplishment to date, while playing for the Diamondbacks organization, Allen threw a no-hitter against the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2013. That was a tremendous accomplishment for Allen, but the aspect he enjoyed most was sharing the moment with his father, Brian, who was at the game to witness his son making history.
“Throwing a no-hitter was awesome,” stated Allen, who was pitching for South Bend at the time. “Prior to that game I had a string of good starts. Everything was clicking that night and the pitches I missed on were hit right at guys. Everything that had to fall in place to throw a no-hitter did. It was an amazing experience all around.”
“Having my Dad at the game was special,” he added. “The team gave me the game ball and I took it straight over to my Dad. I wanted him to have it. Handing the ball to my Dad is a moment I will remember for years to come.”
Splitting time between the infield and pitching in both high school and college, Allen is still developing his game on the mound. With that in mind, the 25-year old pitcher takes great pride in being a student of the game.
“Being a position player definitely helps you as a pitcher. I talk to guys about that all the time,” explained Allen. “I have only been pitching full-time for the last four seasons, so having that position background helps me understand what hitters are looking for.”
“I take great pride in talking to our hitters,” he added. “After an out, I’ll ask them: What did you see there? Do you think that was the right pitch? If I threw you that pitch; do you think I could get you out? All that stuff adds up, because you see the same guys’ over-and-over. It’s nice to know everybody’s weaknesses. It helps a lot.”
Having his option picked up only increased the young pitchers already hectic off-season routine. Focused on never being complacent, Allen is focusing on getting into the best physical shape possible to join a full season affiliate in April.
“I work out every day and train every day in the off-season,” stated Allen. “Actually the off-season is one of my favorite times of the year. I love being able to get to work and focus on the next season. It presents an opportunity to motivate myself and prove to people that I belong.”
Be sure to follow Brad Allen throughout the 2015 season as he puts his tremendous work ethic on display for one of the Blue Jays minor league affiliates.