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Baseball America Online - College

Allison Shares Promise of Former Marlins Draftee

June 3, 2003
By Mike Berardino

MIAMI--One is as Texas as snakeskin boots, the other as New England as "Good Will Hunting."

From all indications, though, Josh Beckett and Jeff Allison share more than an affiliation with the Marlins.

When the Marlins made Beckett the No. 2 overall pick in 1999 out of Spring (Texas) High, he quickly set the goal to pitch in the 2001 All-Star Game. Allison, picked 16th overall in Tuesday's draft, was asked if he'd put the same pressure on himself.

"I also think I'll make the All-Star team in two or three years," said Allison, a righthander from Veterans Memorial High of Peabody, Mass. "That has nothing to do with cocky. I know I'm not cocky," Allison said.

Allison, considered the best high school righthander since Beckett, fell out of a projected spot in the top eight largely due to signability concerns. An Arizona signee, Allison is being advised by IMG, which doesn't like to discuss signing parameters before draft day. That uncertainty, along with some concerns about his makeup, caused Allison to fall into the Marlins' laps. The slot amount for the 16th pick this year is believed to be in the $1.575 million range.

"Being a player from the Northeast, I know what it takes to be a champion, to make it," Allison said. "I have to work a little harder than the kids down South do."

Allison swept a triple crown of sorts in Baseball America's pre-draft ratings. Ranked the No. 4 overall prospect in the draft - and the No. 1 prep pitcher--his fastball, breaking ball and command were deemed the best among all high school pitchers.

He also was ranked second closest to the majors among high school picks, trailing only No. 1 overall pick Delmon Young.

Allison's fastball has topped out at 97 mph with nasty movement. He has a sharp slider and a big-breaking curve that have helped him overpower high school hitters wielding wood bats in his home state.

Entering the North Regional semifinal against St. John's Prep of Shrewsbury, Mass., Allison was 8-0 with 55 scoreless innings this season. He has allowed eight hits and nine walks against a ridiculous 128 strikeouts.

First-year Marlins scouting director Stan Meek saw Allison several times during amateur events at the club's spring complex in Jupiter. Meek also saw the first of Allison's back-to-back no-hitters this season. Allison struck out 20 of 22 batters he faced in that one, but Meek had to leave in the fifth inning to catch a plane. No matter. He'd already seen enough.

"I think it was a really good thing to take me," Allison said. "I have a good shot of being in the Florida Marlins organization. I'll make an impact. I hope they want to win because that's how my competitiveness is."

Allison opened eyes last August as the ace of Team USA at the World Junior Championships at Sherbrooke, Quebec. He had 17 strikeouts in 14 innings, throwing a four-hitter against Venezuela on the way to a bronze metal.