Nick Allen: Athletics 2021 Minor League Player Of The Year
It seems only fitting that Nick Allen would end his best season with a flourish.
The 22-year-old shortstop excelled both at Double-A Midland and in the Olympics, but his first weeks with Triple-A Las Vegas were nasty. He began September hitting .143 before batting .313 in the final month, including an 11-game hitting streak.
This capped an outstanding season for Allen, who has vaulted himself forward in his journey toward Oakland.
"He is creative in how he can make a play,” said Keith Lieppman, the Athletics' former farm director who now serves as an advisor. "He has quick hands with a quick release. He fits into that category of elite shortstops who we have seen come through this system in the past.”
Defense is what makes Allen special. A's farm director Ed Sprague rates him as plus-plus on defense at shortstop, and he was named the outstanding defensive player in the Olympics this summer. The A’s have also given him time at second base this season so he can be prepared at both positions if the need arises.
The A’s hope the 5-foot-8, 166-pound Allen evolves into a David Fletcher-type offensive performer, lashing line drives all over the field. He made major strides in that direction when he batted .319 with six home runs in his 50 games at Midland this season.
He went 6-for-21 with a homer on the silver medal Olympic team, where he played for former Angels manager Mike Scioscia. He then hit .243 after a promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Sprague sees Allen on a path to the majors.
“He just has to continue to be consistent like he was at Midland—not try to do too much, use the whole field and hit the ball on the line," Sprague said. "He has to not get too big.”
The A’s drafted Allen in the third round in 2017 from Parker High in San Diego, and he has advanced so quickly that they are looking at him as their shortstop of the future.
— After missing the final month of the season with back soreness, catcher Tyler Soderstrom was working out at the organization's complex in Mesa, Ariz. Soderstrom hit .306/.390/.568 at Low-A Stockton before the injury.
— Lefthander Jared Koenig won the Double-A Central ERA title by posting a 3.26 mark. Koenig had played in four different independent leagues before catching on with the A’s this season. Koenig finished with 100 strikeouts. Both Koenig and A’s scouting director Eric Kubota hail from the small California town of Aptos.