Austin Allen Opens Eyes At Double-A

Catcher Austin Allen’s bat may yet carry him to the majors. The 24-year-old is doing everything he can to make sure it’s not at first base, a projected landing spot by some scouts.

“That’s my goal—I want to catch,” Allen said. “When the time comes in San Diego and they want to do something, that’s up to them. But they know I’m bought-in on catching, and I feel like they are bought-in on giving me every opportunity behind the plate.”

His lefthanded bat certainly played at Double-A San Antonio.

A 2015 fourth-rounder out of Division II Florida Tech, Allen finished April tops in the minors with 12 doubles and 20 extra-base hits. He hit .364/.423/.773 with eight home runs in 23 games.

Allen’s stellar first month comes as he continues to refine his game behind the plate, an endeavor that began in earnest the offseason after his draft year.

Allen estimates he weighed “a bad 230 pounds” as he entered pro ball. Then he moved to Florida, began working out with a group that included Francisco Lindor and reinvented his nutrition intake.

In addition to working to improve his pop times on throws to second base and receiving low pitches, Allen’s flexibility was a point of emphasis. To illustrate his gains in that department, he relayed a video of himself settling into a front split—just a couple inches off the ground—to catching coordinator Ryley Westman about a month before pitchers and catchers reported for camp this spring.

“As a catcher you have to be flexible,” said the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Allen. “That was one of my big focuses going into the offseason—losing body fat and making sure my weight stays in check, especially in my hips and my core and my glutes.

“That’s going to benefit me as a bigger catcher, and help me get lower and help with durability, stamina and endurance. That was a big focus they wanted me to have this offseason, and I was all in.”

Even Allen’s attention to game-calling and preparing scouting reports with pitchers is ticking up after working alongside defensive whiz Austin Hedges and veteran A.J. Ellis this spring.

“His work ethic and want-to factor is off the charts,” general manager A.J. Preller said. “Every year in the offseason, you give him a challenge and he comes back and he’s done that and exceeded it. All his work is paying off. He’s opening some eyes in Double-A, for sure.”

>> Righthander Chris Paddack returned from Tommy John surgery at high Class A Lake Elsinore on April 30 with seven strikeouts over six shutout innings of three-hit ball. It was his first appearance since June 2016.

>> Top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore landed on the disabled list with a blister after his low Class A Fort Wayne debut om April 10. The lefthander resumed throwing bullpens after a precautionary visit with the big league training staff in San Diego and returned to action in May.

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