Before we get started, yes, that really is newly acquired Indians left-handed pitching prospect Logan Allen with John Cena in the above photo.
The story is fascinating. Basically, Cena met Allen at a steakhouse in Florida while Allen was in the Gulf Coast League in 2015 and Cena challenged him by betting him $1 that he’d never make it to the Major Leagues.
When Allen made his MLB debut this season (seven shutout innings against the Brewers), Cena was there to pay up on his bet. Here’s a video with more detail on the crazy story.
So back to Allen. He was an eighth round pick by the Red Sox out of IMG Academy in the 2015 MLB draft.
Before he could even get his feet wet, he was traded to the Padres as one of the pieces in the Craig Kimbrel deal in November 2015.
Allen sits in the low to mid 90s with his fastball, with his changeup being graded as his best pitch by scouts. Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say about him:
“After pitching with a below-average fastball at the outset of his career, Allen now operates more in the 92-94 mph range with late life. He’s aggressive with his fastball placement, too, and confidently attacks right-handed hitters on the inner half of the plate. A changeup that receives plus grades and plays nicely off his heater is Allen’s best secondary offering, and he also has feel for throwing his curveball and slider for a strike, with the latter grading as the better pitch... Allen’s four-pitch mix along with his pitchabiliy give him a higher floor than ceiling, and he has the durability needed to be a workhorse starter in the big leagues”
The southpaw is having a rough 2019 season overall, with a 6.75 ERA through four starts and eight total appearances in MLB and a 5.15 ERA in Triple-A through 57.2 innings pitched, but he’s been successful at every level he’s ever pitched, including his first stint in Triple-A in 2018, where he had a 1.63 ERA through five starts to end the season.
Allen has solid strikeout stuff, and on paper, his numbers this season are very good. He’s improved to 9.8 K/9 while keeping his walk-rate at a respectable 3.4 BB/9. His problem is he’s been plagued by the long-ball, giving up more than 1.25 HR/9 at Triple-A and a whopping 1.42 HR/9 in MLB.
The Indians do a great job working with young arms so I’m not worried about his numbers this year. Before MLB Pipeline updated its rankings this week, Allen was the No. 75 prospect in all of baseball (he was recently dropped to No. 98). That actually would slot him as the No. 3 prospect in the Indians system.
With Trevor Bauer gone, Allen is going to be a serious contender to try to fill the No. 5 spot in the Indians rotation next season assuming everyone is healthy, and he’s going to be under team control for the next five-plus years on the cheap.