The advice has always been simple. Coaches kept telling shortstop Nick Allen to keep the ball low and not waste at-bats on fly balls.
The 5-foot-8, 166-pound Allen is a graceful shortstop whose future will be determined by his ability to reach base, not crush home runs. And this year, Allen seems to have found that path.
“He spent time in the big league camp during spring training,” Athletics farm director Ed Sprague said. “(Hitting coach) Darren Bush and (manager) Bob Melvin talked to him and reiterated what we had told him.”
Allen, a 2017 third-rounder from The Parker School in San Diego, moved to Double-A Midland this season and became a line-drive machine. Through 42 games the 22-year-old had hit .322/.383/.468 with five home runs.
The improvement also earned him a spot on the United States Olympic team that will go for gold in Tokyo.
Allen already had a reputation as a premier defensive shortstop when the A’s drafted him in 2017. His defense has only improved the last three years, and Sprague believes Allen ranks as a 70 defender on the 20-80 scouting scale, with a plus arm to complement his talents. He is quick and nimble, with good hands.
The question has always been how Allen’s bat would develop. The A’s would like to see him emerge as a David Fletcher-type hitter who torments opponents with gap-to-gap line drives.
Allen is still learning. The A’s want him to be more selective and draw more walks. He is also spending a good deal of time playing second base so he will be ready at either position if there is an immediate need.
With above-average speed, Allen can also be an asset on the bases. He has been attempting to steal more at Midland.
With a year of development lost to the pandemic, Allen still has more to learn. His progress thus far has been encouraging.
— Veteran first baseman Frank Schwindel has become a force at Triple-A Las Vegas, batting .324 with 16 homers through the first two-plus months of the season. Schwindel, 29, played briefly in the majors with the Royals in 2019 after being drafted by the organization in 2013 out of St. John’s. Oakland called him up at the end of June.
— After nine years in the Yankees’ system, righthanded reliever Domingo Acevedo, 27, signed with the A’s during the offseason, and he found his way to the majors in June. The 6-foot-7 Dominican has put up a 2.33 ERA and collected five saves in 17 games for Las Vegas, and debuted with a shutout inning in Oakland.