In the third round of the draft, the New York Mets selected top prep pitcher Matt Allan. The move changed everything about this draft class.
When the third round of the draft started, nobody expected Matt Allan to be selected. After falling out of the first round, most experts expected Allan to slide into the mid-teens or later before declining to sign and head to the University of Florida.
Instead, when the New York Mets came up to select at 89th overall, they shocked the draft world. When they selected Matt Allan everyone was trying to figure out how the Mets were going to be able to afford him. Allan had a reported asking price of $4 million that scared off teams at the back end of the first round. Notably, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the Cubs wanted to select Allan at 27, but didn’t feel they’d be able to meet his contract demands.
When Allan was still available after the first two rounds the Mets made some calls. They called the area scout who scouted him to make sure he was as good as they thought. They called Allan’s agent Scott Boras to see what his contract demands would be. Lastly, they called Allan and his family to gauge how well the 18-year-old would fit into the organization.
Satisfied with the talks, the Mets selected Allan at 89 and felt confident that they could sign him. They spent the rest of the first 10 rounds on college seniors who they could sign for next to nothing so they could afford all of Baty, Wolf, and Allan. College seniors have little leverage in these negotiations because they either sign the contract or never play professional baseball, so teams can bully them into signing for next to nothing.
A few weeks before the signing deadline the Mets announced that they had indeed signed Matt Allan to a deal just over $2.5 million. That is the third-highest signing bonus for a third-round pick in the history of the MLB Draft. For the record, the $2.5 million signing bonus would have been exactly slot value for the Cubs at 27. That’s how the Mets stole the best prep pitcher in the draft.
20 – Awful
30 – Well Below Average
40 – Below Average
45 – Fringe Average
50 – Average
55 – Above Average
60 – Plus
65 – Plus-Plus
70 – Well Above Average
80 – Elite
Fastball – 60
Allan is a big sturdy pitcher measuring at 6-foot-3 and weighing 210 pounds. That doesn’t leave much room for projection in the future. Luckily, Allan’s fastball was overpowering in high school. It sits in the mid to high-90s, but it lacks much movement. He throws it with downward plane giving some sink, but not much. As Allan works with professional coaches expect his fastball to become a full-blown sinker, and with his speed that would be a devastating pitch. Even if he doesn’t get much more sink on the pitch the pitch has enough velocity and sink that it should miss barrels and induce soft contact.
Due to Allan’s body being mostly filled out already, there isn’t much room for Allan to gain velocity on the pitch. The good news is that Allan generates velocity with ease meaning that he isn’t putting much stress on his arm. The ease with which Allan pitches is great because it means that there are no markers for future injury in his makeup.
The key for Allan’s fastball will be how he manipulates the pitch in the future. Since he doesn’t get great break on the ball, it will be key for him to develop different kinds of fastball, and throw them at different speeds. If he can manage to add a two-seam fastball and a true sinker to his four-seam fastball, then this pitch will be elite.
Curveball – 65
Allan throws a power curveball that sits in the high 70s to the low 80s. The pitch has fantastic late two-plane break that jumps on hitters. This is Allan’s strikeout pitch and is the best pitch in his arsenal currently. He can throw it for strikes, he can get hitters to swing at it out of the strike zone, and he can use it set up his fastball. Whatever he needs his curveball to do, he can do it.
The issue with the pitch is that it’s oftentimes reliant on the fastball. If Allan has his fastball, then his curveball is devastating. But if his fastball is off, then it’s hard for him to make his curveball work. Batters don’t chase it anymore, and they can sit on it because he isn’t throwing his fastball in the zone.
The best way to fix that is to make his fastball more consistent, which he did during the spring. The key will be to make sure that Allan will be able to stay consistent against better competition. A lot of prep pitchers become inconsistent and wild once they get to professional ball because they get intimidated by the higher level of competition.
Thankfully, the Mets have been good with developing pitchers and hammering inconsistency out of them at a young age. That is the first thing they work on them with. They will keep them at a level, even if they’re pitching well, simply to work on specific parts of their game to make sure they are consistent enough to succeed at the next one.
The perfect example of that philosophy is Tony Dibrell. This is the second straight year that the Mets have kept Dibrell down at a level that he’s dominating because they want him to work on consistently throwing strikes to batters at this level rather than send him up and become wild. The Mets don’t do a lot of things right, but when it comes to developing pitchers there are few teams better.
Changeup – 55
Allan’s changeup is still a work in progress. It’s a good change-of-pace pitch as it sits in the mid-80s, right in between his fastball and curveball. The pitch is primarily used to keep hitters guessing, but it has the potential to be more.
It’s stiff now but has flashed plus at times. When it’s at its best, it has hard sink and arm-side fade that makes it difficult to hit for lefties. When it’s on, he uses the pitch as a set up to righties before blowing his fastball by them. As Allan develops, the changeup will need to become the above-average pitch it has the potential to be. If it does, then Allan’s arsenal will be as good as anyone in baseball. If it doesn’t, then he will likely top out as a mid-rotation arm.
The key for this pitch will be getting consistent sink. It’s likely that Allan doesn’t have a great feel for it now due to an over-reliance on his fastball and curveball. As he continues through the Mets minor league system and faces better hitters he should throw the changeup more, and in turn, get a better feel for it.
There is currently no reason to be concerned with the changeup, but there could be in the future. Due to Allan’s lack of movement on his fastball, good secondary stuff is a necessity. His changeup could be the difference between Allan becoming an ace or being the next promising flame out. Expect plenty of bumps while he learns this pitch as flat changeups are a hitter’s dream, but the early struggles for Allan could just be the set up for a bright future.
Control – 55
Allan’s control is the second-best of any prep pitcher in this class. His delivery is easy and smooth but does have one kink. Some scouts are worried about the back end of Allan’s arm action in his delivery. They think he’s putting too much stress on his elbow, and that if he doesn’t get it fixed, it could lead to Tommy John surgery in the future. Many scouts who disagree with that assessment and the ease with which Allan throws would suggest otherwise.
Allan can control his fastball up and down well, as well as nibbling the corners of the strike zone on occasion. He has full control over his curveball, being able to place the pitch wherever he wants, whenever he wants for the most part.
On the other hand, Allan doesn’t have the greatest control over his changeup. The inconsistent break it gets makes it hard for Allan to spot the pitch, and it is often the pitch that burns him. As he develops Allan’s control will likely naturally grow as he gets more comfortable with his arsenal and pitching to higher-level batters. The only question with Allan’s control is whether or not he will be able to handle any tweaks the Mets make to his mechanics that alter the velocity or break of his pitches.