Trevor Bauer was the first player from the 2011 draft to reach the major leagues. That was no surprise, considering Bauer (a) was the 2011 College Player of the Year at UCLA, (b) signed relatively early last summer, in time to actually reach Double-A in his first season, and (c) signed a major league contract, giving him a spot on the 40-man roster.
The 2011 draft class was an epic one, especially on the mound, producing the largest signing bonus for a player with the team that drafted him (Gerrit Cole), major league contracts (Danny Hultzen and Dylan Bundy in addition to Bauer) and 2012 Futures Gamers (Jose Fernandez, Chris Reed, Matt Barnes) down through the first round.
Jump down to the 23rd round, though, for the second player from the '11 draft to make the majors—Cody Allen, who already has made three scoreless appearances for the Indians. We'll detail Allen's quick rise in a column next week but wanted to point out just how rare it is for a 23rd-rounder to get to the majors so quickly.
Thanks to research by Jim Callis and BA founder Allan Simpson that lists the three fastest players from each draft class to reach the majors, posted in an Ask BA back in 2011, we know. Dusty Baker is the lowest drafted player to also rank among the quickest to the majors—the current Reds manager was the Braves' 26th-round pick in 1967 and debuted in the majors as a 19-year-old on Sept. 7, 1968.
Allen, a 23-year-old Tommy John surgery alumnus, ties for the second-lowest pick to reach the majors so quickly, at least by round. Carl Willis got there a bit quicker—the 1983 23rd-round pick out of UNC Wilmington got to the majors with the Tigers on June 9, 1984. With 26 teams in the 1983 draft, Willis was picked 581st overall, while Allen was pick No. 698. Allen has some similarities to Willis as a quick riser from a college in the Old North State, having attended Central Florida and then St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC before playing a season at High Point.
It's a surprise that Allen is the second-fastest player to reach the majors from the 2011 draft, but it's not surprising he's first from the Indians' 2011 draft class. Last year's Indians Draft Report Card (sub required for link) listed Allen as Closest To The Majors, as well as Best Pro Debut, Best Late-Round Pick and Best Secondary Pitch, his power curveball.
He's also run his fastball up to the 95-96 mph range in the majors, and Allen has done nothing but dominate in pro ball, with 11.76 strikeouts per nine innings in 98 minor league innings, with just 2.11 walks per nine. He earned his rapid ascent to the majors; the trick now will be staying there.