Righthander Matt Allan used the absence of a minor league season last summer to his advantage.
Without the pressure of trying to impress team officials for his next promotion, the 19-year-old Allan used his invitation to the team’s alternate training site in Brooklyn to refine his pitches. The biggest success story was his changeup.
“I think going to Brooklyn, (my changeup) really excelled past my expectations,” said Allan, an invitee to big league camp this spring. “It got way better way faster because they communicated in Brooklyn, ‘Just work on your stuff. There is no real winner or loser, if you get hit around who cares? Work on your pitches.’
“That allowed me to throw changeups 3-0, 2-1, in these odd counts, and now it’s one of my favorite pitches.”
Allan, the organization’s top pitching prospect, also has a new mentor. During baseball’s shutdown last spring he became acquainted with Jacob deGrom, who resides near him in Florida. Allan spent part of the winter working out with the two-time Cy Young Award winner and shadowed him in spring training.
The Mets are anxious to reap the dividends in the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Allan’s first full minor league season.
“One of the things that was eye-opening and (deGrom) stressed to me is not to over-complicate things,” Allan said. “He said the game became easier for him when he stopped over-complicating thing—’What’s this pitch doing constantly?’—checking the analytics in the portal and checking this.
“It started to become easier, he said, when he started with, ‘How am I going to attack this guy and how am I going to get him out?’ ”
Allan, a 2019 third-rounder from Seminole High in Sanford, Fla., pitched 10.1 innings between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast league and short-season Brooklyn in 2019. He finished the season with a 2.61 ERA and 14 strikeouts.
Preparing for the marathon of a full minor league season was a focus during last year’s spring training.
“I was real excited for (a full season) last year, but Covid had different plans,” Allan said.