Power: Stetson Allie making his mark
Stetson Allie hoped a change in perspective - from the pitcher's mound to first base - would revitalize his very young professional baseball career.
It has, at near-record-setting levels.
After one of the hottest hitting months in West Virginia Power history, Allie sits among the South Atlantic League's leaders in several offensive categories, and hopes further experience as an everyday player will help him continue his rise.
"My personality is ... my mind's racing every day," Allie said. "I like to be on the move. I like doing something every day."
He showed why he was high on those lists, and some areas he still needed to work on, during the Power's 8-1 loss to the Greensboro Grasshoppers on Thursday night at Appalachian Power Park.
Allie was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 2010 draft out of St. Edward High School in Ohio as a flame-throwing right-hander. He was the third-rated prospect in the Pirates' system entering the 2011 season, but control issues ballooned his earned run average and quickly stalled his career.
Allie went from the Power's roster to start the 2012 season to extended spring training to switch to the infield. He said the move fit his personality. It allowed him to shake off bad nights quickly, rather than be forced to stew over them as a pitcher.
"I like the fact you can go 0-for-4 one night and you get another night," he said. "As a pitcher, you have a bad night, you have five days to think about it."
There were few bad nights for Allie in April. His eight home runs for the month tied Mat Gamel and Stephen Chapman for the second most in a single month in Power history. Only Jose Osuna hit more in a month when he smashed nine last July.
Entering Thursday's game, Allie was tied for first in the SAL in home runs (eight), alone in fifth in batting average (.343), and second to teammate Josh Bell in runs batted in (26).
"He's working hard every day to learn everything that has to do with hitting, fundamentals-wise - balance, the eyesight and obviously the pitches," first-year Power hitting Coach Orlando Merced said. "He's a very strong young man. He's hitting the ball the other way and we will excel if he continues that approach."
Allie didn't get the chance to drive in many runs Thursday versus the Grasshoppers. He led off the inning in his first three at-bats, singling to right in the second, striking out swinging in the fourth and doubling down the first-base line in the seventh. Allie had Bell on first when he batted in the ninth, but was walked.
The Power (11-16) found itself in a deep hole early thanks to starting pitcher Clay Holmes' struggles. Holmes lasted just four innings, giving up eight runs, all earned, on eight hits. He struck out just one, walked three and hit three batters.
Allie's strikeout in the fourth is one of the few blemishes in his offensive game. He entered Thursday tied for fifth in the league with 34 strikeouts, but he's the only player among the top 20 in strikeouts batting better than .300. Merced isn't worried about strikeouts this early in Allie's career, and Allie said he wants to remain aggressive while batting cleanup.
"At two strikes, I'm still trying to get a ball I can drive gap to gap or get over the fence," he said. "The strikeouts are a little up, but I'm the one who's trying to get the RBIs in. Of course I want to get better at it. It's a work in progress and I'm trying to get better every day."
And he's happy he has every day to do it.
"It's exciting," he said. "I've worked my butt off with everyone here - the hitting coaches, the fielding coaches - and I'm so happy and proud just that it's finally paying off."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.